William (Bill) David Ziegenfus, who died on September 8 at age 85, was born in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania to Helen Miller Ziegenfus and William Charles Franklin Ziegenfus. He grew up alongside sister, Barbara Betts, and dedicated his life to the community they were raised in.
He met the love of his life, Elizabeth (Liz) Forsythe, at Swarthmore Middle School—just blocks from where he later parked his bicycle to embark on a 3-mile walk to the only movie theatre in town for their first date in the 9th grade. It wasn’t until grade 12 that the two made it official. In the years in between, Bill focused on his first loves—his love of sports, music, and academics. Bill was a talented baseball player, avid reader of history, and gifted at the piano. He engaged with these passions throughout his life, and they fueled him both personally and professionally. After he graduated from Swarthmore High School (’53), he attended Amherst College, where he played baseball while earning a Bachelor of Arts in history and science (’57). Liz wore Bill’s pin during this time of separation. After they graduated from college, the pin was replaced with an engagement ring. Bill and Liz were married at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church on June 22, 1957. The ceremony was followed by a celebration in the Forsythe home, where they walked down the same hallway that framed their first kiss as teenagers, the hallway that would later echo footsteps belonging to their four beloved children and bear the weight of tragedy in one lost too soon.
Bill played baseball at the semi pro level while at Jefferson Medical School (’61). Upon graduation, he found abundant success in his career in urology, which started with an internship at Philadelphia Presbyterian Hospital. He served as a physician in the Navy for three years, during which time he lived in Sasebo, Japan with Liz, their eldest son, William, and daughters, Deborah and Robin. The couple brought their affection for Japanese culture back to Philadelphia, welcoming son, Todd, in a house adorned in Japanese-inspired decor. Bill continued his career as a resident at Thomas Jefferson Hospital and went on to complete a pediatric urology fellowship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He was a pediatric urologist at Alfred I Dupont in Wilmington, and he concluded his career as a urologist at Riddle Hospital after over 40 years of devotion.
Bill is survived by his wife of 64 years, his four children, 11 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren, and his cherished sister. Those who knew Bill admired him for his loyalty to both work and play, and loved him for his deliverance of both tenacity and sarcasm. We will remember him through the moments he treasured—moments spent dancing and toasting, and out in the garden, capturing photography, reading historical nonfiction, traveling, and playing just about any game he could (tennis, golf, platform tennis, bridge, bocce ball) alongside Liz and their dear friends. Bill will be greatly missed, but our hallways will forever be filled with his deep, uproarious laughter.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the memorial service will be scheduled at a later time. Information is forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in William’s name to Chester Charter School for the Arts (1500 Highland Avenue, Chester, Pennsylvania), or the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church (727 Harvard Ave, Swarthmore, PA 19081).