I was looking forward to meeting the nice old couple that lived across the street from our new home on South 5th Street.
If you read my last two posts, you know that my husband and I moved from Ellicott City, Maryland to western Pennsylvania last Spring. We bought a 100-year-old house in town and were in the process of meeting our new neighbors while renovating our new place. We met quite a few people–couples and families of all ages who were friendly and welcoming. One couple we heard about lived in the beautiful brick house across the street. We only saw them briefly, either getting their mail or driving out of their garage.
We were looking forward to moving into our house and walking across the street to introduce ourselves. I heard good things about this retired couple. “Such a nice couple. Very good people. So sweet.”
But I would never meet Carolyn and William Zeigler.
Before Christmas, on December 15th, Carolyn accidentally fell in her house, was taken to the hospital and died there from her injuries. Just a few weeks later, on January 4, William ended his life.
As with most suicides, the question is always, why? In Mr. Zeigler’s case, I discovered the answer. But first, let’s take a quick look at what I learned about this sweet couple. Bill and Carolyn fell in love in their twenties and were married for 63 years. They lived their entire life together in Indiana, PA, and both had successful careers. They did not have children but had many friends and nieces and nephews. Here are a few memories from Mr. Zeigler’s obituary guestbook:
Jerry Gebhard from Honolulu, wrote on Jan. 27, 2022
Bill was a very good friend, but I really can’t honor Bill without including Carolyn, as they were inseparable in life and now in death. We were neighbors in Indiana for many years, and when my wife and I decided to move to Pittsburgh, Carolyn and Bill bought our house. They even wanted to keep our cats, Kiku and Hana, who they loved dearly. I taught at IUP, and when the weather was bad or I was very busy at work, they let me stay in the apartment behind their house. Every year we exchanged Christmas presents, and we enjoyed each others company on the front porch, in folding chairs in the driveway, or at a meal Carolyn would cook. Bill was a gentleman, had a wonderful sense of humor, and enjoyed collecting clocks and other collectables, and they enjoyed showing me their most recent find. When Bill and Carolyn were younger, they loved to go to auctions. They both loved life and living in Indiana. I will deeply miss both of them. May they rest in peace in each others’ arms.
Gerry Koller from Indiana, PA, wrote on Jan. 12, 2022
I knew Bill and Carolyn for years…you wouldn’t see one without the other. Bill was such a hardworking, quiet and gentle man. He adored Carolyn. I was sad to see he had passed so quickly after Carolyn. When I thought about it, I realized that they were best friends and couldn’t live without the other. They are together again…as it should be. Rest in peace.
Charlotte Gailey from Indiana, wrote on Jan. 11, 2022
I knew Bill from my days at S&T Bank. You could not have met a kinder, hardworking gentleman. He was one dedicated employee! God has reunited him with his loving wife. RIP Bill. ❤️
Vickie kovalchick from Creekside, wrote on Jan. 11, 2022
I had the privilege of working with Bill at ST Bank until he retired, he was a great coworker and a gentlemen. We always enjoyed raisin filled cookies together.
Fred and Jane Mitchell from Penn Run,Pa, wrote on Jan. 11, 2022
Rest In Peace, Uncle Bill
Brian and I moved into our newly renovated house on January 1st. On January 4th, Mr. Zeigler waited until he was alone in his home, walked to the back of his garage and shot himself. We were home that day and didn’t hear anything. We didn’t know anything until we spotted activity across the street. Police, various cars, and eventually, the coroner.
In the coming days, we spoke with neighbors, the ones who knew and loved Carolyn and Bill, and they told us about the details of this tragedy. It was difficult enough for Bill to lose the love of his life, his best friend, but it was too much for him to face the idea of leaving the home he shared with her. From what we heard, the surviving family members informed Bill that he couldn’t live in his house anymore, and told him he could live in the small apartment in the back yard. The nieces and nephews proceeded to take every valuable and cherished antique and collectible from the house.
This is information I received from our neighbors. However, my husband met one of the family members, the executor of the estate, and he confirmed most of what we heard and told him that the family is in the process of having an estate sale for the remaining belongings of the Zeiglers and the house will eventually be sold as is in an auction. And all I can think to this day is how sad, how tragic this ending is for such a lovely couple.
As I write this, I’m looking at Carolyn and Bill’s house, still wishing I would have been blessed with the opportunity to meet them, share some porch time with glasses of iced tea and swap stories about auctions and collectibles. (My husband and I also love both). I know it would have been a pleasure to know them.
Life can be hard and unfair. Suicide is a controversial topic for most people, but I’ve never been one to judge. The reasons a person chooses to end their life belongs only to them. And, like other beautiful people I’ve written about
who commit suicide, I choose to honor them and celebrate their lives. And I celebrate Carolyn and Bill Zeigler, a wonderful couple who lived and loved, and who I pray are at peace and are eternally together.