John Merrill Ziel

Obituary of John Gustavus Merrill Ziel

John Gustavus Merrill Ziel came to us on January 22, 1942 and left us on May 21, 2016 at 5:15 pm. His appointment at the Pearly Gates was probably at 5:00, but we all know John was always late. John was a loving son, brother, husband (for just shy of 50 years), father, and friend. His impact on so many peoples’ lives was astounding. Generous with his time, resources, and advice, John was a guide to many of us at different points in our lives. Born in San Francisco to Elizabeth Merrill Ziel and John Gustavus Ziel, the family ranch in Nicasio was where he learned to love horses, hard work, and family gatherings. One day, he aspired to have his own farm and a family to enjoy it with him. As with all John’s goals, he succeeded. John’s school years were spent in San Francisco then at the Orme School in Arizona, where he made lifelong friends. He attended the University of Colorado, where he was infamous for riding his motorcycle through the local movie theater. He graduated from Menlo Business College earning a degree in Business Administration. John then proudly served his country as an Officer in the Navy for five years rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. While stationed in Japan, he met the love of his life, Diane. Upon his arrival at the new base in Sasebo, John had to make contact with the officer he was replacing. That meeting occurred at Commander Roy Clymer’s house, and the Commander’s daughter Diane caught John’s attention immediately. She was not interested in John, but as with all his endeavors, John soon succeeded in winning her heart. They married in 1966 with a military wedding in Japan. Then John and Diane returned to California and welcomed twins David and Cindy into their lives in 1967. John worked at RCA and Sperry Univac in California before moving north in 1973 to computerize The Oregonian. After working with Digital Equipment Corporation in Portland with a short stint in Bellevue, John became the first district sales manager for a little start-up company called Apple Computer. John was determined to place Apples into schools so all children could access the new technology. He succeeded and they are still the predominant computers in schools today. When he left Apple after 10 years, he worked for Tektronix as Director of U.S. Sales, letting himself go when budget cuts came so that his team members could stay. John also pursued entrepreneurial interests creating companies that utilized his extensive knowledge of new technology trends. Realizing his boyhood dream, in 1978, John and Diane purchased a homestead they lovingly called “the farm” in West Linn, Oregon. He turned one bedroom, one bathroom, a basement, and a whole lot of old sheep into a beautiful, large home with fields for livestock and Japanese gardens for him, Diane, family, and friends to enjoy. Almost 20 years later, in need of a new project, John and Diane bought a home on beautiful Lake Oswego. When the work was done at the lake house, the view from the living room or the gazebo or from the captain’s chair on his boat filled his senses and brought him great joy. John and Diane spent his retirement years traveling. With a true love of the United States, they enjoyed many road trips to special sites like New England, the Antebellum South and, especially, our national parks. A month long cruise through the South Pacific was their last out-of-country experience proceeded by a Panama Canal trip with sister-in-law Royanne joining them for the second half. He and Diane also loved to spend time in the beautiful Northwest camping with their grandchildren, cruising Lake Oswego or just sitting in the gazebo contemplating life with their friends. John is survived by Diane and their children Cindy (husband Doug) and David (wife Lauren), as well as grandchildren Claire, Bret, Phoebe, and Ruby, sister Betsy, sister-in-law Royanne, nieces and nephews and friends so close he considered them family…We will all miss him deeply. In John’s honor, the Lake Oswego Corporation is creating a fund for Habitat Restoration for Native Wildlife. Contributions to this fund would be appreciated by his family. Payable to Lake Oswego Corporation, PO Box 203, Lake Oswego, OR 97034. A celebration of John’s life is planned for July 1...for information, call Cindy Ziel Robert at 503-260-3431.
Share Your Memory of