Santa Fe Living Treasures â€“ Elder Stories
Sam and Isabel Ziegler
â€˜THINGS WORKED OUT IN A MAGICAL SORT OF WAYâ€™
Honored October, 1998
Dr. Samuel R. 'Sam' and Isabel H. Ziegler
Dr. Sam Ziegler was asked to come to EspaÃ±ola in 1946 to help bring that small city and northern New Mexico into the modern era. Then for more than half a century, he and his wife, Isabel, did more than almost anybody else to make a new day happen
Sam grew up a ministerâ€™s son in Pennsylvania and graduated from medical school as World War II was starting. After serving as an Army doctor during the war he left the military and was deciding what to do as a young married man. Some wealthy benefactors from Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu knew his father and invited Sam to come establish the first hospital in EspaÃ±ola, which they had helped fund. He agreed, planning to stay two years.
When Sam and Isabel arrived, Rio Arriba County was one of the poorest in the United States, with some of the most deplorable medical statistics. The child mortality/ morbidity rate was second only to an impoverished county in Kentucky. Most residents spent their lives never seeing a doctor. EspaÃ±ola had no hospital, no library and no newspaper. Spanish was by far the common language. The economy was agricultural.