“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
Siegfried (Ziggy) Hoecke died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, October 18th. A family man and devoted Christian, Ziggy leaves behind his beloved wife of 63 years, Anna Hoecke; his three children, Annette Bramsen and her husband Franklin, Wilfried C. (WC) Hoecke and his wife Catherine, and Valerie Hoecke and her partner Chris Tacy; as well as 6 grandchildren (3 of whom are married), and 10 living great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents Martin and Martha; and by his great-granddaughter Autumn.
Ziggy was born in 1932 and grew up in Schwengels on the Baltic Sea, near what was at the time Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). After happy early years as his parents’ only child on the family farm, World War II broke out. While initially the family remained together, in 1944 both of Ziggy’s parents died (his mother of tuberculosis and his father on the Russian front). As a result, Ziggy became an orphan at age 11 and lived on the family farm with his grandmother.
Ziggy’s hometown then became a contested battleground, bombed by the Allies and defended by the Germans. In February of 1945 there was a major tank battle between the German 4th Army and the Russian 3rd Belorussian Front. Twelve year old Ziggy was desperate to flee from the invading Russian army, but met resistance from family. He finally convinced his grandmother to flee, and assisted by a German officer, collected the rest of the family the day before his village was overrun by the Russian Army.
Eventually all who remained of the extended family were captured by the Russians and interred in Königsberg, where the East Prussian civilians were being deliberately starved by the Russians after the war had ended. Ziggy escaped from Königsberg to find food for his family and after returning tried to convince them to escape with him, but they refused. Eventually, on his own, 13-year-old Ziggy fled to Lithuania where a family offered him refuge in exchange for help on their farm. This formative experience left Ziggy with a lifelong empathy for refugees and victims of war. East Prussia was eventually annexed by the Soviet Union and all the surviving Germans were expelled.
After five years in Lithuania, Ziggy made his way to Soviet-controlled Berlin, hoping to be repatriated to West Germany. He learned through the Red Cross that some of his family had survived the war, and because he could prove he had living relatives in the West he was allowed to leave. On Dec.18, 1951, he crossed the line of demarcation in Berlin and was eventually reunited with surviving aunts, uncles, and cousins in West Germany. He moved to Hamburg to live with an aunt and uncle, and from 1952 until 1957 he served as a deckhand on passenger boats on the Elbe River and in the Hamburg harbor. In early 1957 he earned his Schifferpatent or ship’s pilot’s license, but at that point was already planning to fulfill a long held God-given dream of moving to the United States.
At the age of 23, Ziggy met Anna Bierer at church. They fell in love, and immigrated to the United States to start a new life together. They were married at Emmanuel Gospel Church in New Britain, Connecticut on May 18, 1957, and settled in New Britain, in central Connecticut. They were blessed with the birth of their first daughter, Annette, on January 26, 1959.
In 1960, both Ziggy and Anna began working for the Cromwell Children’s Home. Anna worked as a cook, and Ziggy as a caretaker, farmer, and handyman. During this time Ziggy, whose formal education had ended in fifth grade, earned his GED and a two year degree in Electronics Technology from the University of Hartford. On April 17, 1962, Anna and Ziggy welcomed their baby boy, Wilfried (WC), into the world.
After graduating, Ziggy joined a small team at Yale University building a tandem Van de Graaff heavy ion accelerator, used for nuclear research - a career highlight for him - during which time the family lived in East Haven, Connecticut. When he finished that project he took a job as a field engineer at the Stanley Tool - Strapping Division in New Britain, CT. In 1966, Ziggy and Anna built a new home in nearby Southington. After 15 years at Stanley, he took a product design job at Inertia Dynamics in New Hartford, CT. He finished his career at North American Philips’ Airpax Division in Cheshire, CT, as an equipment engineer (and unofficial OSHA compliance officer), retiring in 1997. Ziggy had a keen eye for risk, was committed to safety, and loved solving problems. He truly enjoyed training people, and took great pleasure and pride in his work.
Before the birth of Ziggy and Anna’s “late arrival” child, Valerie, on August 18, 1972, Ziggy was able to buy a small sailboat to pursue his lifelong love of being on the water. Sailing was a way to ensure quality time with family and friends, and became a passion. Ziggy kept a boat on Long Island Sound at the Pilot’s Point Marina in Westbrook, CT, for 17 years. In addition to sailing, Ziggy, Anna and their kids enjoyed camping and hiking, road trips, and remained lifelong nature and outdoor lovers.
During this time Anna and Ziggy were active members of Bethany Covenant Church in New Britain, CT, and later Christ Community Church in Cheshire, CT.
They helped many immigrant and refugee families find work, buy groceries, secure homes, learn to drive, and start new lives in the US. To Ziggy, this seemed only natural since he and Anna had been the beneficiaries of similar help to get their start in the US.
When Ziggy retired in 1997, he and Anna moved to Chapin, SC, near their son WC, his wife Catherine, and their 3 children. They spent time with their grandchildren and gave respite care to families of children with disabilities. Anna and Ziggy also relished placid days by beautiful Lake Murray. They enjoyed their neighborhood lake community and the fellowship of members of the Lake Murray Evangelical Church. They often remarked on their great fortune to be able to enjoy these easier days together, lakeside, with people they loved.
In 2014, Ziggy and Anna moved to the Covenant Living Holmstad retirement community in Batavia, IL, to be close to their daughter Annette and her family in their final years. Ziggy adored time spent in the Holmstad woodworking shop with “the guys.” He also loved to be with his ever growing family of local grandkids and great-grandkids. Ziggy was happiest at family gatherings with “a little” in his loving arms.
After living for several years with MDS (Myelodysplastic syndrome), Ziggy developed a subdural hematoma and was admitted for surgery to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, in the care of a great team of nurses and doctors. He ultimately passed away peacefully early in the morning on October 18, with family at his bedside.
Ziggy was a loving and gentle man of faith, who walked in daily gratitude for the blessings of his many years. He believed in passing on his good fortune to others and took tremendous joy in family. He will be deeply missed by family and friends alike.
A private burial will be held on October 30th, followed by a memorial service honoring Ziggy’s life on October 31st at the Holmstad. An additional service will be organized at a later date for friends and family unable to attend due to COVID19 restrictions.
“He was… a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief…” Isaiah 53:3
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Arrangments handled by Malone Funeral Home. For more info please visit malonefh.com or call 630-232-8233.
To view the livestreamed graveside service please click on the following link below: https://www.tributeslides.com/tributes/show/NQPD48RFMMTRSBGS
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To view Ziggy's tribute video please click on the following link:
In lieu of flowers, please do as Ziggy would have done - give aid to someone you know in need. Donations can also be made to Gospels for Asia https://www.gfa.org/donation/ or Refugees International at https://www.refugeesinternational.org/donate.
To send flowers to Siegfried's family, please visit our floral store.