DALLAS — The father of self-help motivation and one of the most popular speakers in North Texas history is dead. Zig Ziglar passed away Wednesday morning in Plano at the age of 86 after a short bout with pneumonia.
Ziglar is being remembered for his wit, his stories and, perhaps most of all, his faith.
The inspirational man of faith often started his speeches with "Let me share with you a story out of my notebook of life." That notebook was one that people across the country, and even the world, craved to learn from.
According to his Plano-based company's website, Ziglar was a World War II veteran who grew up in Yazoo City, Miss., and then went to work in sales for a series of companies, where his interest in motivational speaking grew. He moved to Dallas in the 70s and eventually settled in Plano.
Ziglar was known for corporate training and motivational speeches that aimed to improve people's personal lives and careers. His company includes more than a dozen other speakers who advocate "The Ziglar Way."
"I read the Bible every day and the newspaper every day, said Ziglar in an interview with News 8. "And that way, I know what both sides are up to."
In 2007, Ziglar suffered a brain injury in a fall, leaving him with severe short-term memory loss. However, that didn't stop him from continuing his motivational speaking, or using his sharp sense of humor.
"You know, I do have a good sense of humor and I can laugh at myself more than I can laugh at anybody else," he said in an interview with former WFAA reporter Jeff Brady in 2007.
Before his injury, he received $75,000 for each public appearance. He continued his work after the fall with the help of his daughter, Julie Ziglar-Norman.
Something that never changed were the things he stressed as important to always remember and keep close: family, hope and thanks.
"Hope is a foundational quality of all change," he told Brady in 2007. "If you've got no hope, why go to work? If you've got hope, 'Man I've got to work; I get to work.' That's the difference right there."
He was married to his wife, Jean, for 66 years.
"We have lost a giant of the faith who was able to connect Kingdom principles with professional life in a way that brought excellence, integrity and productivity to the workplace in the name of Jesus Christ," said Dr. Tony Evans, senior pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, in a statement. "Personally, we will always be grateful to him for helping launch the speaking career of our daughter, Priscilla Shirer."
Ziglar wrote more than 30 books, including "See You at the Top" and "Over the Top."
He was a longtime member of the Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, where he often taught Sunday school classes. A church spokesman said people would come from across North Texas to attend the classes.
"He was a minister of encouragement and gave a message in a way that connected with people," said Dr. Jack Graham, Prestonwood Senior Pastor.
Gov. Rick Perry, speaking at a stop in Irving Wednesday, spoke of Ziglar's impact after his death.
"Zig lived a passionate and spiritual life," said Perry. "He impacted many Americans through his quakes, teachings and seminars."
Before his passing, he lived at the The Legacy at Willowbend, a senior living center. The director at the center said Ziglar was always true to his values, even putting on motivational programs for his fellow senior residents.
They never thought of him as a famous person," said Lana Van Giesen. "He was just Zig, and he saw himself that way."
Earlier this week, before he was hospitalized, Ziglar and his wife celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary.
"Even at the end, when he wasn't feeling so well, if you asked him, 'Zig, tell me about your love story'," said Van Giesen. "He would say, 'she's the prettiest girl I've ever seen in my life.' And he always called her, 'the redhead.'"
Ziglar could command up to $50,000 every time he stepped onto a stage. In the last 12 years, he hosted three WFAA Family First events. He never charged.
Ziglar once said, "You are the only person on earth who can use your ability."
He used his ability to help people make the most out of their lives. A memorial service will be held at Prestonwood Baptist Church Saturday morning at 11.
WFAA's Marjorie Owens and the Associated Press contributed to this report