William H. Zierdt, III

William H. “Bill” Zierdt lll (Lt. Col. USA -Ret’d), age 85, died suddenly but peacefully of congestive heart failure on March 13, 2022 at Creekview Health Center, Evergreen Retirement Community, Oshkosh.  Death came shortly after he enjoyed a daily dinner with Alyson, his wife of over 30 years. They recently moved to Evergreen, where Bill’s increasing health needs could be met while Alyson lived independently.  

Bill Zierdt settled in Fond du Lac after being born in Philadelphia, January  5, 1937 considering his grandfather’s chicken farm in Eastern Pennsylvania as home and leading a peripatetic lifestyle in a dozen states and four countries while working in a few more. He graduated West Point in 1959 and spent twenty years in the Army as a cavalry commander and, later, as an academic. His two tours in Viet Nam were flying helicopters and, after forming a troop of 338 troops at Fort Hood, Texas, led the summer 1969 campaign in the A Shau Valley. Though actually much larger, this was popularly known as Hamburger Hill, with the first troops on and last off Dong Ap Bia being Condors of Bill’s unit. He received two Legions of Merit and two Distinguished Flying Crosses during his service. During this service he also earned further degrees and education from University of Southern California, University of Chicago, Cambridge University and Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

When he left the military, he made a complete break and had very limited contact with classmates and colleagues for twenty years. During this time he was self-employed for ten years and then accepted a position at Marian College where he served until his retirement in 2005. Much of this time was spent running from his military service, which had become a very painful part of his life. It was years later that he accepted that he could be a good cavalry officer while being uncomfortable with other aspects of military service in an increasingly militaristic society.

He served as Commodore of the Fond du Lac Yacht Club, on the Board of Windhover and, subsequently, Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts, and voluntarily worked with EAA for 18 years both at Pioneer Airport and as the rotorcraft announcer during Airventure each summer. He was a volunteer mediator for the Winnebago County Center for Conflict Resolution.

Bill wrote all but first paragraph up to here.  His wife, Alyson adds this personal remembrance.

Bill was kind, complex, brilliant, troubled by PTSD from two tours of duty as a cavalry officer in Viet Nam, substantive, a stunningly good public speaker, funny and never boring. I loved him every day for the last 31 years of his life. I shall miss him every remaining day of mine.

Bill is survived by his wife, Alyson (Dietzmann) Zierdt, Oshkosh, daughters Katrina (Tracy) Burns, Huntington Woods MI and Michele Zierdt (Glenn Vance), Fort Wayne IN, son Bill and wife Carrie Christofano, Madison WI, stepsons Steve Betzold (Mission, KS), John and James Betzold (both Indianapolis, IN),  grandchildren Rhiannon Burns Stanuch (Alex Stanuch), Gaven Burns (Tonia Osby ) and great-granddaughter Lolah Burns, all of Hazel Park, MI. Further survived by sisters-in-law Holly (John) Eglsaer, Mary Margaret McManus and brothers-in-law John Eglsaer and Bill (Ruthann) Gries, nieces Ruth Alyce (Peter Siessenop), and Linda Palmer, nephews Sam Dietzmann (Lisa Wiedemann), and Max Gries (Tyler Van Vierzen), Carl Weaver (Liz Gordon), his best friend since age 12, and Eva Marlene Duffy, the mother of his children, other relatives and friends in Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and beyond.

Predeceased by his parents William H. Jr and Elizabeth (Kirkpatrick) Zierdt and his in-laws Edward P. and Alyce A. (Burt) Dietzmann.

The family would like his truly caring caregivers from Home Instead, especially Judy Bertram, and at Creekview and Household 1, Evergreen.

At Bill’s request, no funeral service will be held.  He asked that we hold a memorial celebration at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts, Fond du Lac, which will be scheduled later this spring or early summer.  Bill asked that contributions in his memory be sent to National MS Society, Wisconsin Chapter,1120 James Dr, Hartland, WI 53029.