Boonville - Robert "Bob" K. Zeigler, 93, of Carol Ave, passed away on the morning of February 22, 2023 at Sunset Nursing Home surrounded by family.
Bob was born in Boonville on August 9, 1929 to John and Lucy (Akins) Zeigler, the third of their five children. He graduated from West Leyden High School in 1948 and was then employed at C. Hughes Motors. From 1951 to 1952 he served in the U.S. Army, completing a tour of duty in Korea during the Korean War. Upon his return he became involved in building a family business with his father, John, and brother, Dick. Zeigler's Garage would become a familiar Boonville landmark for well over sixty years. In 1971 he partnered with his brother Dick to purchase the family business, and proceeded to expand into auto body repair and restoration, thus creating Zeigler Collision, another long-term and familiar business which remained a part of the original building on Ford Street. Bob would also go on to introduce a sport in its infancy known as the "demolition derby" to Boonville and eventually other fair venues throughout the state. Bob retired from Zeigler Collision in 2018 after 66 years.
Bob was probably most notable as a pioneer in the area of stock car racing. Bob's first feature win came at Northern New York racetrack in 1953, followed by his first track championship at Fort Covington in 1954. During his six year stint racing with the Northern Stock Car Club (NSCC) at the Watertown Fairgrounds Speedway beginning in 1956, Bob dominated the competition winning a record 31 features, tied the single season win mark with eight features, and took home three track championships in 1957, 1959, and 1961, the most by any driver in the 19-year history of the NSCC and 26-year history of the Watertown Speedway. In 1963 Bob made the transition from dirt to asphalt, primarily racing downstate, where he continued with limited success claiming features at the famed Utica-Rome and Spencer racetracks and numerous second place finishes at Owego. In 1964 Bob and his pit crew (brother Dick and friend Charlie Brown) made the weekly Wednesday night trek north to Ottawa's Capital City racetrack where he claimed eight feature wins en route to the track championship. Midway through 1965 Bob shifted gears, sold the stock car, purchased land, formed a corporation (with brother Dick, cousin Karl John, and fellow race enthusiasts/friends) and built a racetrack. Within two short years Evans Mills Speedway Inc. celebrated its opening day race in August 1967. Bob retired from racing in the late 1970's. Bob was inducted in the Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame on May 26th, 2002 as a Pioneer Stock Car Driver and Racetrack Promoter during what many believe to be the "golden age" of stock car racing. The following inscription appears on his hall of fame plaque: "Recognized early for his driving talent, respected late for building a speedway, he authored a short track success story in between."
Bob was united in marriage with Elinor Capron on February 27, 1954 at the First Methodist Church in Boonville. He and Elinor were married for 68 years, until her passing on August 4, 2022. Bob is survived by his three children, Steven Zeigler, Chesapeake, VA, Scott Zeigler (Diane Gallo), Boonville, and Patricia (John) Brand, Alder Creek; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; a sister, Carol (Butch) Johnson, Boonville; as well as many extended family members including Dar Jenkins. He was predeceased by his wife, Elinor, parents, John and Lucy Zeigler, and three brothers, Donald Zeigler, Richard "Dick" Zeigler and Karl Zeigler.
In keeping with Bob's wishes, there will be no calling hours. Private funeral services will be held for the family. Donations in Bob's memory can be made to Lewis County Humane Society or an animal shelter of one's choice. An animal lover, Bob gave a home to many shelter and homeless pets over the years.
Arrangements are under the care of Mills Funeral Home, Boonville, NY. For an online message of sympathy please go to www.millsfuneralhomes.com.