When Sally McIntosh Ziegler started working at the Ossining Children's Center, she realized that many of the families didn't speak English as their first language. Soon after, she enrolled in a night class at the local community college to learn Spanish—one of many stories her children tell about the lengths Sally would go to help everyone she knew.
Sally, Trinity ‘56 and the first female editor-in-chief of The Chronicle, passed Sept. 10 at age 85. In addition to her love for others, her family still fondly recalls her love for Duke basketball, shucking oysters on Thanksgiving and how she was always surrounded by music and literature. The lessons Sally taught them—from technical sewing skills to treating others the way you want to be treated—are innumerable.
‘The word that comes to mind … is grace’
Sally was born in Savannah, Ga. on Dec. 16, 1935 and grew up on the Isle of Hope, a community right next to the Savannah River.
“With all the love and faith our mom raised us with … I think it hit me the other day that she grew up in Isle of Hope and she’s given each of us an isle of hope to get through this really sad time,” Sally W., her daughter, said of Sally.
Throughout her life, Sally “could be very direct but always kept her Savannah manners in place,” Sally W. said. She was “small in stature but had a very big spirit.”
“The word that comes to mind when thinking of her is grace.”
Sally served as editor-in-chief of The Chronicle in 1956. While at Duke, she met her husband Edward “Ted” Ziegler, Trinity ‘54 and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle in 1954. Two weeks after Sally graduated from Duke, the two got married. Before attending Duke, Sally attended Pape School and Ashley Hall.
After graduating, Sally and Ted spent time in Greenwich Village before moving to Ossining, N.Y. There, Sally volunteered at the Ossining Children’s Center, where she would be the director for 10 years. She was recently named an honorary director of the center.
Sally then worked as the executive director of the Childcare Council of Westchester. She was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church in 1994.
“She had a strong interest in people who are disenfranchised and disadvantaged,” her son Andrew said. “She felt really strongly about trying to help in as many ways as she could. And she did a great job.”
Sally W. echoed a similar statement, noting that her mother “lived in the service of others” and “really wanted to make life easier for everyone around her.” She attended Ossining Children’s Center while Sally worked there, from ages three to 11.
“I had a lot of memories of being there and watching her—watching her care for other people’s children with just the same tender love that she had for us. And always, always teaching valuable lessons, explaining things, making things meaningful for the kids around her to learn.”
Sally would also often visit people going through difficult times, whether they were in the hospital, going through a divorce or other circumstances, Sally W. recalled.
In 1997, Sally and Ted retired to Colorado Springs, Co. Sally’s other son, Matthew, and Sally W. live there now, while Andrew lives in Ossining.
Blue Devil basketball
Matthew and Sally never missed a Duke basketball game, especially after Ted’s passing. Sally “thought [Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski] hung the moon” and would know all the new players that came in every year, according to Matthew. She would get particularly excited for games against University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
“She would be uncharacteristically less than charitable to the other coaches or referees when they made a call against the Blue Devils,” Matthew remembered.
Sally’s television room was surrounded with Blue Devil gear, such as a blanket, a squishy ball and quilts. As they watched games, she would wear her Blue Devils sweatshirt.
Matthew fondly remembers oyster roasts in South Carolina where their family would have “oyster juices dripping down their elbows as part of their Thanksgiving feasts.” On summer evenings in New York, the family would play games and watch fireflies.
Sally W. said that when she was a girl scout, her mom helped her and her friends get their sewing badges. Sally taught many generations how to sew and would sew a nightshirt for Ted for his birthday or Christmas every year.
“All of her grandchildren can sew because of the time that she took to teach them how to plan out a pattern and cut out the fabric, and she could be extremely accurate,” Sally W. said.
Sally W. remembered a time Sally was attempting to sew part of her deacon vestment. She had trouble getting the seams lined up.
“She described what an act it was of her challenging her faith because she was cursing over the whole thing ... And when she finally finished one of the sleeves, she had sewn it inside out, but she decided to leave it there as her penance for not paying attention.”
Sally was always surrounded by music, her children said. If she wasn’t making music, she had the radio on. She and Ted also appreciated art, culture and literature, and Sally was very well-read, Andrew said. Sally W. remembers her lovely singing voice.
She was also a great storyteller.
“She definitely would share the legacy of our family history and tell us to keep in touch with the generations that came before us,” Sally W. said. “She would tell us stories about her parents that we could quote.”
Linguistic skill and a love for reading
Sally and her children also helped with a bookmobile in the early 1970s, an initiative by the Ossining Library to bring books to children that didn’t get to go to the library.
“As adolescents, we were doing activism at her suggestion, her motivation,” Andrew said.
Andrew said that his mother was a top French student at Ashley Hall. And after retiring, Sally and Ted spent a lot of time in Tuscany, where she learned Italian.
Sally W. remembered a time when they went to Italy as a family. Sally got out of the car and asked someone a question in Italian. The person responded in German. When Sally came back to the car, she repeated the information in English.
Matthew described Sally as “a mixture of common sense and intellectual curiosity that was so, so fun to be around.”
Andrew said that Sally taught him to treat people the way you want to be treated and to always stay positive. Matthew said she taught him about staying true to your word and using humor to offset difficult situations.
Along with Andrew, Matthew and Sally W., Sally is survived by her grandchildren Racquel, Lachlan, Owen and Daniel, as well as Josephine, her great-grandchild.
“One of the hardest things about us writing her obituary is that my parents were the great editors of life. We lost dad almost two years ago, and now mom isn’t here to proofread our stuff,” Sally W. reflected. “We’re stumbling along trying to write our own obituary.”
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Leah Boyd is a Pratt senior and a social chair of The Chronicle's 118th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 117.