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ERNEST JOSEPH "ERNIE" ZIGA

ERNEST JOSEPH "ERNIE" ZIGA Obituary
ZIGA ERNEST JOSEPH "ERNIE"

April 8, 1921 - October 8, 2019. Age 98, originally from the Elliott section of Pittsburgh, then Pleasant Hills. Ernie had a long and happy life with many friends and world-wide adventures. He died comfortably at his senior residence after a brief illness. Ernie was the second of five children born to Joseph and Edith Heindl Ziga, Austro-Hungarian immigrants. He was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Frances (Frannie), and siblings Mary Louise, Green Bay, WI, Margaret Maclean, Boynton Beach, FL, and Charles from Allison Park. Younger sister Elizabeth Ann Russolillo lives in Boynton Beach, FL. At Langley High School, Ernie played the violin in the orchestra and contributed articles for the newsletter and yearbook. After graduating from high school in 1937, Ernie enrolled at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon), with a scholarship to study mechanical engineering. There he served on the staff of the university engineering magazine and was elected to two national honorary engineering societies, Tau Beta Pi and Pi Tau Sigma. Ernie's education was interrupted by his desire to serve his country in World War II. He enlisted in the Army Air Force and, after receiving training in the maintenance of B-17 and B-29 bombers, was stationed in Saipan and Iwo Jima in the 498th Bombardment Group. In 1946 he was discharged with the rank of Captain. Later in life he would say that this time as a military officer was his most meaningful life experience because it taught him independence. Upon his return to Pittsburgh, Ernie completed his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Tech and graduated in 1947. In addition to this noteworthy accomplishment, he resumed his acquaintance with Frances McDonough, the sister of one of his college friends. They were married in a ceremony at Sacred Heart Church in East Liberty in 1948 and a few years later Sharon (Sherri Miller) was born. For the next 40 years Ernie maintained an interesting and varied engineering career that included overseeing the design of brick refractories for Harbison-Walker, doing design work on the early Westinghouse Electric nuclear submarines, and designing optical devices, telescope mirrors, and missile tracking devices for Contraves Goerz. His work carried him to such interesting locations as Algeria, Ascension Island, Brazil, France, and Switzerland. Ernie also traveled frequently on vacation, making more than 16 trips to Virginia Beach with Frannie before and after he retired in his 70s. Ernie stayed active after his retirement, logging many volunteer hours at the John Heinz History Center, taking continuing education classes, participating in veterans' events, and attending Pittsburgh Pirate games with Sherri and her husband, Harold. The members of Ernie's family want to thank the many caring individuals who contributed to his high quality of life in recent years, including Thierry Verstraeten, MD, his macular degeneration specialist, Peggy Antosh, his aide and companion from Comfort Keepers, his care team at Kindred Hospice, and the wonderful staff and management at Fair Oaks of Pittsburgh, where Ernie lived during his last ten years. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to Fair Oaks of Pittsburgh, 2200 West Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15226, 412-344-9915, http://www.fair-oaks.com/. Funeral arrangements by BEINHAUERS. Family and friends welcome at 2630 West Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15216, 412-531-4000, Thursday 4-7 p.m. where a blessing service will be celebrated Friday at 11:00 a.m. Interment Mt. Carmel Cemetery. Please view or add tributes at www.beinhauer.com.

Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Oct. 9, 2019
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