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  1. #1

    Default Sad News: A True Trail Angel Passing

    George Ziegenfuss passed away on Wednesday. George and Murray used to live in Bland, VA and they helped many hikers. He was a truly wonderful man and a real hiker.

    Some earlier threads on George. Some of you might remember when he got shot by a hunter.

    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/sear...archid=7032014

    His Obituary:

    http://mercertoday.com/Obituaries/zi...vingstone.html

    If any of you have stories you'd like to share about George and Murray, I will take them to Murray next week.

    There is a picture of George in an Appalachian Trail book. He is leaving a shelter on a foggy morning. If anyone can help me find the name of the book, I would appreciate it.

    Cedar Tree

  2. #2
    Registered User Doctari's Avatar
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    Sad! My next hike is thru that section, had hoped to meet him.
    Curse you Perry the Platypus!

  3. #3

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    we should all bow ower head in a moument of prayer for him and his family
    GRAVY

  4. #4

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    On my '99 hike, I had hiked out of Damascus before Trail Days with the intention of hitching a ride back. I made it to Atkins and after several misfires ended up in the van of George and Murray Zeigenfuss. They made a deal with me. They would drive me the entire way back to Damascus if I would join them at the church service in Hungry Mother State Park. George was a retired deacon in his church and now Murray was a assisting in the services. Of course, I agreed. After a beautiful service, before which George admonished me to not care about how I smelled, they congregation had a potluck dinner. George loudly declared to all that I would be going first. Then they drove me in a torrential downpour the rest of the way to Damascus. Beautiful people.

    I spent the night with them again in 2003 not long after he was shot. He was frail and angry about his frailness. He was so frustrated he could not get out hiking. He said the doctor's told him if he wasn't a daily hiker, he would have died. He also shared with me and my friends what he was thinking the moments after he was shot. Moving.

    George Ziegenfuss was a wonderful person and a proud thruhiker. The trail has indeed lost an angel. My thoughts and prayers are with Murray.
    Yahtzee

  5. #5

    Default A Tribute

    Although I only met George a handful of times, I felt like he was a close friend, a feeling I am sure he engendered in many others. It's hard to believe he's gone--but what an inspiration he was and will continue to be.

    Greg "I'll Try" Stover and I wrote the following about George, based on my phone conversation with George's wife, Murray, this morning and information from our records at ATC:

    The Appalachian Trail lost a dear friend when George Ziegenfuss died on November 11th after a long struggle with leukemia. George and Murray were able to be alone together at home during his final twelve hours of life.

    George, a.k.a. Ziggy, completed a northbound thru-hike in 1989 about which he later wrote, “Every day became a special event filled with surprises, beauty, and awe.” He attempted another thru-hike in 1995 but had to leave the trail at Damascus. He returned the next year completing another large section when he had to leave the Trail unexpectedly at Delaware Water Gap.

    During their years living in Bland, Virginia, George and Murray provided hospitality to 60-100 hikers a season. George was a life member of ATC.

    George was ordained a Lutheran pastor in 1957 serving various churches and congregations in Pennsylvania and Virginia. He retired in 93 or 94, but continued to serve as a vice or interim pastor. Earlier today Murray recounted one of his acts that showed his devotion to one of the many small churches he was serving, remembering how he shoveled several large garbage bags of bat poop out of church attic in Burke’s Garden.

    Murray said that George often used the trail as a metaphor when he was dealing with physical challenges. When he was barely strong enough to walk a few steps, he would point to a chair on the other side of the room and say, "I'm going to make it to that next blaze."

    Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy or the American Cancer Society.

    Condolences may be sent to Murray Ziegenfuss at P.O. Box 122, Speedwell, VA 24374.

    Laurie P.
    ATC

  6. #6
    avatar= bushwhackin' mount kancamagus nh 5-8-04 neighbor dave's Avatar
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    R.I.P. brother, see you when i get there

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedar Tree View Post
    There is a picture of George in an Appalachian Trail book. He is leaving a shelter on a foggy morning. If anyone can help me find the name of the book, I would appreciate it.

    Cedar Tree
    Appalachian Adventure, page 25. He's heading out of Roaring Fork Shelter, but it's not foggy.
    "I too am not a bit untamed, I too am untranslatable,
    I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world." - W. W.

    obligatory website link

  8. #8
    Nicksaari's Avatar
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    i would be more than happy to hike in with some type of memorial on trail in Bland to remember and celebrate his life this upcoming spring season. even if its granite.
    i guess we would have to clear this with the trail maintainers, im guessing through the Roanoke AT Club.
    i never met George, but i am touched from reading of his life as an educator as well as an AT enthusiast. indeed, i believe, it is THE PEOPLE that make the trail what it is. and if placing a memorial on trail in Bland is the least i can do, i would feel that it was the right thing to do in his memory.
    would anyone else be interested in this idea? i do not know who or what club maintains this section. sharing the information would get me started on the right path to this idea or a memorial. thanks everybody & god bless

  9. #9
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    Any photos of him?

    R.I.P. George.

  10. #10

    Default Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepy the Arab View Post
    Appalachian Adventure, page 25. He's heading out of Roaring Fork Shelter, but it's not foggy.
    Thank you Sleepy. I have this book somewhere, I have been searching everywhere. At least I now know what I am looking for.
    CT

  11. #11

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    Years ago I came to the road crossing above Bland and George and Murray pulled up and told me it was going to rain and that I should stay at their home. They treated me like a family member. Reading their journals and letters written by hundreds of people over the years I quickly realized they they treat everyone like family. Angel, is a good word for them or Saints. I have to say too many good people are dying lately, please stop.

  12. #12
    Formerly thickredhair Gaiter's Avatar
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    I remember hitching out of bland, there was an older gentleman who gave me a hitch, when I jumped out of the truck (it was red i think) the back of it was covered in AT stickers that I didn't notice before I got in it... is that the same person?
    Gaiter
    homepage.mac.com/thickredhair
    web.mac.com/thickredhair/AT_Fall_07

  13. #13

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    Hi Gaiter, Yup, same guy. It was a rusty red truck, and George a thin framed guy light of step and heart.
    Twig

  14. #14
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepy the Arab View Post
    Appalachian Adventure, page 25. He's heading out of Roaring Fork Shelter, but it's not foggy.
    I'm attaching that photo, which I just scanned from the book. Here's a link to the book, just for informational purposes--
    'Appalachian Adventure coffee table book

    RainMan

    .
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

    .

  15. #15
    Registered User ZEKE #2's Avatar
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    [quote=Rain Man;920382]I'm attaching that photo, which I just scanned from the book. Here's a link to the book, just for informational purposes--
    'Appalachian Adventure coffee table book

    RainMan

    Thanks for the info. Just bought myself a copy
    Zeke

  16. #16
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZEKE #2 View Post
    Thanks for the info. Just bought myself a copy
    You are very welcome. Hard to beat $3.84 for a coffee table book from alibris.com. Great site for old AT books.

    I was just glad to have the photo handy that was mentioned in this thread.

    RainMan

    .
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

    .

  17. #17

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    It was great to meet you Cedar Tree at Grace Lutheran Church. My brother and I had known George for 20 years. We met him after he completed his 1989 thru hike. It was October of that same year when we were section hiking. On our last night on the trail we camped with George at No Business Knob Shelter just south of Irwin, TN.

    That evening we gave Geroge the rest of our food supply. He was very appreciative to fill his food bag. Later in the evening, I played my harmonica and he sang. It was a night on the trail that I'll never forget.

    That was the beginning of a great friendship. The following year, he was filling in as pastor near Whitetop, VA. We wrote and told him that our next section would take us to Damascas and that we would like to visit him. He called us and said if you could hike just a little farther to Elk Garden, we would be less than 4 miles from the cabin he was living in. George ended up and insisted on shuttling us thru the entire state of Virginia.

    It's just not going to be the same knowing that he's not around anymore. As you know, Friday we hiked up Whitetop from Elk Garden to spread his ashes. I'd say we were about 1.25 miles south of Elk Garden (halfway up Whitetop). He had shown Murray exactly where he wanted to be placed. The location, if I remember is the first giant boulders to the right of the trail as you walk south on the AT from Elk Garden.

    Happy Trails,
    Ron Brizendine
    Jefferson City, MO

  18. #18

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    He was a trail angel before trail angels were cool !!!! R.I.P.

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