Zig Ziglar
In Zig Ziglar's world, the morning alarm rang on the "opportunity clock." And "if you aren't on fire" when you get to work, "then your wood is wet." And you have to remember that "money's not the most important thing in life, but it's reasonably close to oxygen." And there will be setbacks, but "failure is an event, not a person."

Mr. Ziglar, a motivational speaker whose "Success Rallies," "Born to Win" seminars, more than 25 self-help books and countless audiotapes attracted millions of devoted followers with homespun advice on career advancement and moral uplift, died Nov. 28 Wednesday at a hospital in the Dallas suburb of Plano. He was 86.

He had pneumonia, said his executive assistant, Laurie Magers.

Rising by one's bootstraps through the "power of positive thinking" has long been a compelling narrative in American lore. Few messengers of prosperity have been able to sustain a relentlessly upbeat and lucrative career for as long as Mr. Ziglar.

Zig Ziglar! A human exclamation point! The world's most popular motivational speaker, as he was often described, was always excited because "you never judge a day by the weather!"

Earnest metaphors

He was a presence at corporate retreats and conferences for firms such as IBM and J.C. Penney. For the general public, some people paid $49 to hear him live or $1,595 to buy his complete written and audio package.

He won over crowds with his faith-filled proverbs and earnest metaphors about setting goals and facing down adversity.

"If you're going to have to swallow a frog," he said in his Southern drawl, "you don't want to have to look at that sucker too long!"

Or: "You can get everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want!"

Or: "Have you ever noticed that people who are the problem never realize it? They're in denial. They think denial is a river in Egypt!"

Or: "The more you gripe about your problems, the more problems you have to gripe about!"

What his words lacked in depth, they made up for in conviction.

"I've asked myself many times how Zig can say the same things people have been hearing all their lives, and instead of getting yawns he gets a tremendous response," his friend Fred Smith, the former FedEx chief executive, told Texas Monthly in 1999.

"I think he's a little like Billy Graham, who has never really departed from the same sermon he was giving back in his 20s yet who's never lost any effectiveness," Smith said.

"After all these years, Zig still devotes every day to living this life he talks about, to applying some eternal truths about character, commitment, hard work and self-determination."

'For his most fervent admirers, Ziglar was an inspiring leader who every morning leapt out of bed to the opportunity clock, bussed his wife ("Hey, Sugar Baby"), and willed himself into a positive mind-set by seldom lingering on crime stories and celebrity gossip while scanning his morning newspaper.

Texas Monthly described Mr. Ziglar's love of comic strips, stories about sports teams that win and human interest tales that touched on the miraculous. He clipped them out and stored them in a file cabinet brimming with anecdotes about people who overcame disabilities and poverty and made it to state championships and the executive suite.

"Isn't it amazing," he told Texas Monthly, "how we are designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness?"

Advancement in all its forms appealed to Hilary Hinton Ziglar, who was the 10th of 12 children born in rural Coffee County, Ala., on Nov. 6, 1926. He was raised by his widowed mother in Yazoo City, Miss.

He described his mother as the foremost influence on his life, a strict and devout woman whose mental storehouse of adages ("The person who won't stand for something will fall for anything") remained a cornerstone of Mr. Ziglar's speeches and writings.

After Navy service at the end in World War II, he was married in 1946 to Jean Abernathy. He attended the University of South Carolina, but he was a middling student and left to work as a door-to-door cookware salesman.

As he was promoted through the ranks of the company, Mr. Ziglar became drawn to the power of self-help speakers and their ability to influence others.

He began giving talks at church and Rotary Club meetings, often reprising his mother's advice and relating his own experiences of smiling through setbacks and grief.

He settled in the Dallas area by the late 1960s, initially for a job training workers at a direct-sales company. The business soon folded, but the demand for Mr. Ziglar's speaking had intensified. He launched a business called the Zigmanship Institute, now simply known as Ziglar Inc.

His first book, "Biscuits, Fleas, and Pump Handles," published in 1974 and later retitled "See You at the Top," urged readers to reevaluate their lives with a "checkup from the neck up" and to quit their "stinkin' thinkin.'x"

Mr. Ziglar spoke often of his religious awakening in 1972 and invoked his faith in such book titles as "Confessions of a Happy Christian" (1978) and "Confessions of a Grieving Christian" (1998), which he wrote after the death of his eldest daughter, Suzan Witmeyer, from pulmonary fibrosis in 1995.

His other books included "Courtship After Marriage" (1990) and "Staying Up, Up, Up in a Down, Down World" (2000). He wrote a memoir in 2002.

Mr. Ziglar, who sometimes earned tens of thousands of dollars per speech and other times waived his fee, kept up a rigorous touring schedule until retiring in 2010.

Besides his wife, of Plano, survivors include three children, Cindy Ziglar Oates of Southlake, Texas, motivational author Julie Ziglar Norman of Alvord, Texas, and Tom Ziglar, who is now chief executive of Plano-based Ziglar Inc.; seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren ; and a great-great-grandson.

Ziglar adapted his maxims to every aspect of his life, not least the golf course. Every day, he sought to break 70 but never did.

"Yesterday ended last night," he liked to tell himself. "Today is a brand-new day. And it's yours."

Published by The Record/Herald News on Nov. 30, 2012.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
Add a Message

Not sure what to say?

227 Entries
Zig, I always appreciated a check up from the neck up' whenever I heard of you presenting. Your motivational skills were exemplary and I truly lived a higher functioning life because of your positive influence. Thank you!
Patrick Francisco
January 14, 2020
Zig Ziglar was the best speaker I have ever heard. He kept audiences spellbound with his powerful voice and enunciation skills. He used humor effectively and made his speeches both enjoyable and memorable. He kept audiences on the edge of their seats with his story telling skills. I was fortunate to have heard him speak several times and to have listened to many of his albums. I found his motivating and common sense words which to be invaluable in my first supervisory position. His first book, See You at the Top, was one of the best and most influential books I have ever read. I still go back and read this great book and listen to his CDs. I have recommended both his books and tapes to many people. I was fortunate enough to have attended his 3 day seminar in Dallas in the mid 1980's and his Sunday School class.

He left quite a legacy and good memories with the thousands of people he helped and continue to help with his books and CDs. I was fortunate enough to have met him and to have received his timeless advice. He was truly one of a kind and an inspiration to all he met. Thanks for all the help and motivation you provided to me and many others, and I hope to one day see you at the top. RIP
Jack Stell
October 22, 2017
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
August 14, 2017
Valenda Newell
September 21, 2016
Bob Tyndall
May 2, 2016
A man blessed by The Lord who encouraged and inspired millions He had a tremendous impact for the kingdom He will be greatly missed Leavitt Sanders
January 4, 2016
I have just done the Sales Audio - What a MAN. Zig Ziglar a Genius in his own time. Thank you for the insight. Richard Starke South Africa
Richard Starke
January 14, 2015
October 20, 2014
If there ever was a person that had a truly profound impact on my life it was Zig Ziglar. I thank you and I thank God that i had the opportunity to have found this kind man with the message that you can achieve anything in life that you want regardless of circumstances. In other words always look for the positive in every situation. God bless Zig Ziglar and all who loved him. Gregg G. Lowell, Massachusetts
Gregg G
May 8, 2014
Ben B Buckland, Okla City
Thanks for the memories and the guidance since the mid 60's.
December 8, 2013
An inspirational man to millions. Thank you for your work in spreading Christianity and the power of positive thinking. Your words have had a profound impact on my my life.
August 27, 2013
Wonderful to know this man via his work. See you, Mr. Ziglar, and that beautiful red-headed wife of yours on that Beautiful Shore! Thank You YHWH for such a blessing.
August 26, 2013
It has been 8 Months since Zig passed and I just found out today. My Prayers go to the whole family, I feel like I know them all through his stories. Zig changed my way of thinking and I'm a better man for it. Godspeed, you were loved by many who never met you in person.
Mike S
August 1, 2013
Yes, I will see you at the top!

Until then, you will be greatly missed.
T Winston
July 19, 2013
It is a time for the younger in Christ to rise to the top... We have lost so many Great of the Faith; Larry Burkett, Chuch Colson and now Zig Zigler... Our loss is great, but Christ has not left us alone...thru the Inspiring teaching of these great men, we press on, we are bruised but not crushed, Christ Jesus is preparing an Army of Christian warriors, worldwide, we will preserver and He HAS won !!! In Christ's Love and Truth >d<
Denise Sutton
June 27, 2013
God blessed Mr Zig Ziglar to be a blessing indeed;
I'm so thankful, grateful, for his legacy.
May God's best forever be yours, ARA
Amy Renee Armstrong
June 15, 2013
Whenever I am down and feeling less than my best for a giant kick in the pants I head for Jesus first and then start digging for my books by Zig Zigler and my endless notes and promises to myself. Jesus gave me the gift of a living breathing candle in my times of darkness and helped me to see the pinhole of light that would begin to burst into the sunshine of another day filled with hope faith and belief in myself and my godgiven abiity to rise above any situation.To dream and ask the question HOW?
Priscilla Benson
June 8, 2013
To have changed the lives of so many for the better, is what you have done and will continue to do. I wanted for years to meet you in person, and hear you speak and inspire. . . until that day comes- Thanks!
Jeremy M
February 13, 2013
See you at the TOP. Clarence Wolfe
Clarence Wolfe
January 25, 2013
When I was emotionally down, felt financially beaten and needed to make another sales call; Zig it was your words of wisdom I turned to and by reading several pages my spirit stood up on the inside and gave me the strength to make one more call. Zig I have always wanted to me you in person, as a born again Christian I look forward to meeting up one day and sharing with you the positive impact you had on my life!
Ken Robinson
January 15, 2013
Zig, Full of Grace, full of enthusiasm, full of Christ's light. See you soon dear brother.
Debbie H.
January 13, 2013
Zig, I will see you at the top. I hope my mansion is close to yours. Iloved your wisdom
January 13, 2013
You helped me through so many tough times, and now you help me to be a great partner and farther for my family x. Zig you will be missed but I will still hear you voice everyday
Michael Pilling
January 12, 2013
You will be missed Zig. I have you to thank for countless sales over the years. If it were not for your words, I may not have become a top producer and stuck with the same company for 10 years. Thank you for helping me fulfill my dreams.
Mike C.
December 26, 2012
Like many others around the world have said Zig was a motivational treasure for all of us in life and business. But the memory of Zig I will always treasure is standing in Zig and Jean's kitchen sharing coffee and cake with the Sunday School class Bible study and getting to know Zig the husband, father and everyday man. He was the real deal and my life is richer having known him. He truely is at the top now. You will truely be missed my brother in Christ. My love and condolences to his lovely Jean.
Ken Mayo
December 12, 2012
What an Inspiration this man is to me, I say is, because I continue to listen to his CDs at every opportunity that I get. I only wish I could have met this man. God Bless
December 10, 2012
His book "See You At The Top" changed my life. Thank you Zig!!
Lisa Barton
December 10, 2012
Zig Ziglar was and still is an inspiration to us and a fine example of a healthy man, husband and father
Dax and Samantha Cowart
December 9, 2012
I was sad to hear of Zig's passing. Zig, you never knew the profound influence you had on my life. I know the day of your passing was a happy one for you. Waking to real life. Seeing friends and loved ones. Seeing your daughter again and being at home with our Lord. "See you at the top", my friend.
Rob Pettet, New Jersey
December 9, 2012
Condolences. Psalm 9:9,10
December 8, 2012
Dear Ziglar Family,

I so loved Zig's tapes and books as I sold advertising in the 80's. I will always remember him.

Roberta Sheffer, Sarasota Florida.
December 8, 2012
Zig, your book "See you at the Top" was a great inspiration. What a wonderful man you were. Now you are walking the streets of Glory. Well Done good and faithful servant.
December 7, 2012
Great man! Loved his work.
Ann Grammer
December 6, 2012
Thank you Mr. Ziglar, for helping me to discover , and more importantly , rememeber , that my Altitude is indeed controlled by my Attitude !
From one Salesman to another....
+ God bless you Mr. Ziglar ! AMDG
James B. Kenny
December 6, 2012
i am truly saddened to hear this I started listening to Mr. Ziglar at the age of 18 and took his many messages to heart. Now at the age of 52 I still am inspired by his words and works. The Sales World has lost a great trainer and even larger humanitarian... Zig you truly are seeing us from the top god bless and thank you.
Dan Sloan
December 5, 2012
What a classy Sunday school teacher you were, Zig. Your positive thoughts will live on to inspire and motivate goodness.
Ginny Sharples
December 4, 2012
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
December 4, 2012
Our deepest ssympathy and heart prayers go out to the family. May the God who gives peace be with all of you..
December 4, 2012
I was so sad to hear about the passing of your loved one. Zig Ziglar changed my entire attitude which changed my life! After reading See You at the Top, I became much more aware of my approach to life and that I was in fact in control of my thoughts and actions. I wrote a paper on setting goals and having a positive attitude in college and later on it was shared with my co-workers. I still have it! I was truly inspired and loved his thinking. Thank you for sharing him with me and the world. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends. He has certainly left his mark in the world!!!
Michele Behnken
December 3, 2012
What a man of great integrity & wise words! My heartfelt sympathy to Zigs' loving family & friends...may God bless & comfort you all!
December 3, 2012
I loved this Man and will always remember how true he was to what he taught. To Tom and his sweet red head Jean, I am truly sorry to hear of his passing. I worked as one of his coaches and so loved every moment of it.
Wade Lindstrom
December 3, 2012
A great man of God, who left an amazing legacy has gone home to his Father. What a great reunion it must have been to see his daughter again!
Kelly Couture
December 3, 2012
Mr. Zig Ziglar is and will always be a giant of a man.
John Cary
December 2, 2012
One of my life's greatest pleasures was getting to know Zig and to have worked at Zig Ziglar Corporation. My sincerest condolences to the family.
Gary Holbrook
December 2, 2012
I never met Zig, but was an avid listener to his teachings. His messages instructed and challenged me, and they never failed to bring a smile and brighten my day. What a legacy he leaves behind!
My prayers go out to his wife and family..
Alice Adkins
December 1, 2012
Nothing I could say now can take away the grief that you are feeling. I sat and listened and it was as if my own father had passed. I am who I am because I AM lives in me! I learned about him in part from Zig. Tom said "Nothing really happens until you take action." Tom, you have the ability to continue helping people take action! Please continue!
Robert Springer
December 1, 2012
Before Zig began teaching Sunday School at Prestonwood, he taught the Auditorium Class at First Baptist Dallas. It was easily the largest class in the church and included people of all ages and stages of life. Zig was a great salesman who was especially good at telling people about Jesus!

When Zig left First Baptist, Dr. Charles McLaughlin took over his class, but we will never forget our very first Sunday School teacher.

Our condolences to Jean and the rest of the family.

Jack Bullard
Director, McLaughlin Bible Class, First Baptist Dallas
Jack Bullard
December 1, 2012
Sometimes we don't quite understand
the heighth and breadth of God's Infinite Plan.
But through all our tears and sorrow
we know Who holds tomorrow,
and it's all in our Master's Hand!
Zip, I didn't have the privilege of knowing you personally; only thru your books and tapes. The world loss is Heaven's gain!
Don Biggerstaff
December 1, 2012
I am so truly sorry for your loss. Prayers are being sent for the entire family.
Helen Crouch-Gamble
December 1, 2012
What a great man and impacter of lives! We will miss his always cheerful hellos!
Gary Hammond
December 1, 2012
What rejoicing must be going on in Heaven! How precious that he was here to celebrate his 65th anniversary with his beloved "Redhead".

My condolences to the family. How wonderful to join the Saints that went before....
November 30, 2012
Love you Zig. You were the very best of your kind and I'm sure you are dancing with Susan now. Wanda
Wanda Ferguson
November 30, 2012
Dear Zig, I know there is a huge celebration going on in Heaven due to your arrival there to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I'm sure God's angels are estatic that you are there now to help them further God's kingdom and cause of bringing more people to Christ. Thank you for being such an inspirational Sunday School teacher, friend and mentor and sharing God's Word and wisdom with us year after year. You will greatly be missed by us all! God Bless Jean and the rest of your family and friends!
We Love You & Jean,
Leslie & Jay Jones ( DFW, Texas )
November 30, 2012
Your words were so inspirational to me when I started in the working world after high school. Thank you so very much for being "you"...
November 30, 2012
May God continue to bless your work left here on Earth. I will keep motivating others because you have motivated me.
Sandy Lugo
November 30, 2012
Mr Ziglar - It was an honor to meet and interview you for WFAA-TV several years ago. I have never forgotten your profound advice on HOPE!
Thank you for your leadership and inspiration.
- Jeff Brady, Dallas -
November 30, 2012
November 30, 2012
My sincere sympathy and this individual was truly one of a kind.
I am a successful vice president of a manufacturing company and owe my success to Zigs philosophy.....conveyed to the exciting books.
His presentation skills were also spellbinding and I have tried to come close in my techniques.
I have seen Zig in his Success seminars and will continue to listen to his recordings for the timeless lessons on motivation and maximizing what life has to offer.
November 30, 2012
Now you are "at the top" and seeing all of us from above with the greatest motivational speaker - Jesus. God's Blessing upon your family.
Mike Wilson
November 30, 2012
What an incredibly great man. Zig, you changed my life in so many ways. I will never forget when you autographed my book "See You at the Top", leaving me a special scripture in the bible". It was a direct answer to my prayer that morning. This Jewish kid is saved today because of witnesses like you. G-d bless you Zig. You will be greatly missed.
Eydie Glassman
November 30, 2012
Thank you for what you have meant to my life. Humbled to be able to call you friend. Next time I see you it will truly be AT THE TOP in Heaven.
Jim Philpott
November 30, 2012

Prayers go out to you all.
Loretta O'Connor
November 30, 2012
We will miss you, Zig--see you at the Top...Ed Bridgeman
November 30, 2012
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
November 30, 2012
Zig , I will never forget you. You made a imprint in my life of what I needed to do and where I needed to go. Thank you.May Peace Be With You My Friend .
nan allustiare - hartzell
November 30, 2012
Mr. Z Z,

I studied your words, and I loved their content! You were an inspiration to thousands; my mentor & Professor Edwin Pearson quoted you on numerous occasions! R.I.P.

"Sell the Sizzle" was something I embraced when teaching Salesmanship!!!

What a grand contribution Mr. Zig Ziglar has made to our country!!!

F R Blalack
November 30, 2012
Thank you Zig Ziglar: You motivated so many of us sales professionals around the world. May God comfort your family
Janice L Cook
November 30, 2012
I'm a better person today, Thanks to you!
In 1985 my wife left me and took my son. I was in a very dim place in my my life. Then a year later, I was on a trip in the Bahamas with some friends and the only radio station that we could get was 'The Winners News Network' out of Ft. Lauderdale. That is were I first heard you speak. That day changed my life. You taught me to see the good in everything that happens, and focus on that. Thank you Mr. Ziglar you made my world a better place. Rest in Peace, you are surely missed.
November 30, 2012
Zig wrote: John 14:6 on the back of A Special Promise Card when I asked for his autograph.
Frank Mascari
November 30, 2012
Many rewards await you with our Lord. Thank you for your testimony and encouraging words. You were truly a blessing to all.
Randy Aumsbaugh
November 30, 2012
I frist heard Mr. Ziglar in college and he was a great motivationa speaker!
Stephen Pinkney
November 30, 2012
Thank you Zig Ziglar, senior year in high school I enrolled in the I CAN Class. Then in college, in Dr. R.K. Tucker's class we read CHOICES. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. GREAT inspiration you touched so many lives. I will never forgot you. My deepest sympathy to Ziglar Family.
Connie Weaver
November 30, 2012
Thank you Zig. Navy Recruiting Command...
November 30, 2012
Thank you Zig for all your inspiration! Anne Sonnier
Anne Sonnier
November 30, 2012
When I started out selling many years ago Zig's tapes provided me the skills and motivation to become very successful.I appreciate his being there for me and reminding me."there are no traffic jams on the extra mile" God bless you, Zig
Paul Holmes
November 30, 2012
My first exposure to Zig was after I had been married 25 years. His tapes helped our mariage become better and helped us grow as individuals!
I am very sorry for your loss.
Laurie Mann
November 30, 2012
It is a wonder thing to be able to motivate people by words that enlighten them. The bible of Gods' word at John 17:3 says "This means everlasting, their taking knowledge of you th only true God, and of the one whom you send forth Jesus Christ." He tried to make life in his world better with the knowledge he had.
November 30, 2012
I am so blessed to have had Zig as my Sunday School teacher many years ago at First Baptist Dallas. He was a shining example of Christian manhood. I love the way he often referred to Jean as "Little Red". God bless you all. There may be tears of sorrow down here, but can you imagine what a wonderful celebration is going on in Heaven? I have heard him speak of Heaven so many times, and glad to know he's there!
Lance Gutierrez
November 30, 2012
I had the privilege of hearing Zig speak in 1960 and always found his words to be motivating.
Tom Underwood
November 30, 2012
Thank you Zig Ziglar for helping me get through the hardest of times. You've undoubtedly helped millions of lives with your words of encouragement and wisdom. Thank you.
November 30, 2012
You were one of my heros. You took the gospel with you wherever you went. I'm sure God welcomed you with open arms and said, "well done, my good and faithful servant".
Bonnie Clark
November 30, 2012
To his family,thank you for sharing your father and husband with the world , we are praying for you all at this time.
cindy rye
November 30, 2012
A good man who did great work. A true ambassador of Jesus and Godly principles.
November 30, 2012
My prayers go to the family at this time of sorrow. We knew and worked with Zig when we were all with Automotive Performance Inc. in Dallas TX in the 60's & 70's. Then we moved to Dayton OH and saw him each time he did a motivational program. I have all of his books & tapes. He will be missed. My heart goes out to Jean at this time. God Bless.

Mary Bennett
Mary Bennett
November 30, 2012
Zig was influential in my life starting about 1974 with SEE YOU AT THE TOP. My condolences to his families.
Jim Cain
November 30, 2012
Zig, thank you for all of your great words of wisdom and truth. You were loved by many. Your impact on the nation of believers will be felt for generations to come. What a glorious moment when you heard those endearing words, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant." "Welcome to Heaven." Shalom.
Jack A. Diebold
November 30, 2012
November 30, 2012
Thanks to the "RED HEAD" for sharing Zig with us.
Darrell Canady
November 30, 2012
The best speaker and motivational person ever, hope all of us who listened to his words will play them foward to make the world better.
jim wagener
November 30, 2012
An excellen speaker,and very motivating
encouraging,and uplifting.
he will always be remembered.
Praying for comfort for the family.
Roxanne & Tim Copeland Norton, Ohio
November 30, 2012
Ziglar, you were making a big difference worldwide. We are far away missing you. Your motivation will remain.
Dr. Tariq Abdulsalam Omer
November 29, 2012
Zig God Bless You. You have positively affected so many.
Jeffery Rom
November 29, 2012
I heard you speak once. Your in a rare class with Norman Vincent Peal and Billy Grahm. Not bad company Zig. Your words live on. We will miss you.
November 29, 2012
Our sincere condolences to the Ziglar family, he will be missed! Coming out to Texas for the facilitator (Train the Trainer) classes was a turning point for those of us attending and certainly for the many T.C. Smith and King Drug employees here in North Carolina. Zig was certainly "Born to Win".
Chuck Rousseau, Asheville, N.C.
November 29, 2012
I am deeply saddened at the passing of a life that meant so much to me, and many others. When I was young and struggling, reading of Zig's struggles and eventual triumph left me with hope, with joy, and with peace with whatever situation life threw at me. The way he could laugh at situations that often strike fear into the hearts of mortals, left him as immortal, and indeed this is what happens when we mortals surrender our lives to the will of the Almighty. May you be blessed eternally for the many blessings your life provided to your fellow man in your life. If the greatest gift a human can give another human is a life well lived, you have given the greatest gift, Zig.
Ryan Messano
November 29, 2012
A special person for a special time.
Dan Rhodes
November 29, 2012
Debra Peters
November 29, 2012
He will truly be missed by all. Prayers to his family during this time of loss. May God wrap his arms of comfort around his family.
Debra Peters
November 29, 2012
We love you Zig. Godspeed.
Jason Carney
November 29, 2012
I was so excited to hear Zig speak at an event. He will be missed by many.
Judy LeGlise
November 29, 2012
Showing 1 - 100 of 227 results