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Zig Ziglar, renowned layman & speaker, dies

PLANO, Texas (BP) — Zig Ziglar, known worldwide for his folksy and often anecdotal motivational talks on success through serving others, died Wednesday (Nov. 28) at a Plano, Texas, hospital of complications from pneumonia. He was 86.

Ziglar’s deep, soothing Mississippi drawl and speeches and books often sprinkled with mentions of his Christian faith endeared him to millions. Ziglar was arguably the best-known motivational speaker of his day, having conducted hundreds of corporate seminars and given motivational speeches to hundreds of thousands of people over a 42-year speaking career.

An active Southern Baptist layman and a member at Prestonwood Baptist Church in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Ziglar served as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1984-85 during Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley’s tenure as SBC president.

He wrote more than 30 books, including best-sellers “See You at The Top!” and “Confessions of a Happy Christian.” Another book, “Confessions of a Grieving Christian,” followed the death in 1995 of daughter Suzan Ziglar Witmeyer from pulmonary fibrosis.

Ziglar’s pastor, Jack Graham, wrote in a message to the Prestonwood congregation on Wednesday, “It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know that Zig Ziglar went to heaven today. Although we mourn the loss of this incredible servant of God, we rejoice that Zig is celebrating in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Zig has left such an indelible mark on this church that we will forever remember his servant heart, his passion for teaching the Word of God, his love of people and, of course, his high-energy, motivational speaking.”

A message on Ziglar’s Facebook page stated, “Zig Ziglar passed from this world today after a short bout with pneumonia. Though his time on earth has ended, he is speaking with Jesus now in his heavenly home. The angels in heaven are rejoicing and his family is celebrating a life well lived.”

A flash graphic at Ziglar corporate website, Ziglar.com, stated “In Loving Memory of Zig Ziglar 1926-2012,” followed by “Speaking with Jesus Now — Romans 8:28.”

Ziglar was born in Coffee County, Ala., as Hilary Hinton Ziglar but the nickname “Zig” stuck with him as he grew up in Yazoo City, Miss. Ziglar was a World War II Navy veteran and attended Milsaps College in Jackson, Miss., and the University of South Carolina before beginning a full-time sales career that would catapult him to fame as “America’s motivator.”

Ziglar was preceded in death by his 11 siblings and his daughter Suzan. Survivors include his wife Jean; one son, John Thomas (Tom) Ziglar; two daughters, Cindy Ziglar Oates and Julie Ziglar Norman; seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN (www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. A second story about Zig Ziglar will appear in Baptist Press on Thurs., Nov. 29.

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  • Jerry Pierce/Southern Baptist TEXAN