MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 6, 2014

No limits to what she tries in art

Mary Ziegenfuss’ classmates in a recent arts class ranged in age from 11 to 15.

She is in her 70s.

“It was lots of fun, very creative,” said Ziegenfuss, 78. “You learn not only from the teacher, you learn from the children, too. You’re not competing. You’re just basking in everyone else’s delight.”

Ziegenfuss has done plenty of basking lately, especially at the Art Guild of Muskogee.

“Any time there is a new class or a new medium being explored, I’m there,” she said.

She has been exploring, telling stories and hearing stories, ever since she grew up in the northeast Oklahoma hills.

Many of those stories and lessons came from her family.

Her great-great grandfather on her mother’s side was John Ross, the Cherokee chief who resisted forced removal on the Trail of Tears in the 1830s.

“The people on my father’s side of the family lived out at Gooseneck Bend and ran the ferry,” Ziegenfuss said. “McCoy Smith and Mary Elizabeth Butler Smith had the ferry across the Arkansas River before they had the big bridges across. There was a landing below the house on the river, and the ferry would cross over to Braggs.”

After attending the 51st District School in Park Hill, Ziegenfuss moved with her family to Muskogee, graduating from Central High School in 1954.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Oklahoma, then taught in Lawton and Morehead, Ky. She married Roy Ziegenfuss, an insurance salesman, in 1963. They had one daughter.

Meet Mary Ziegenfuss

AGE: 78.

HOMETOWN: Muskogee.

CAREER: Retired Bacone College theater teacher.

EDUCATION: Muskogee Central High School, class of 1954; associate degree at Muskogee Junior College; bachelor of fine arts degree, University of Oklahoma, 1958; master’s degree, OU, 1959.

FAMILY: One daughter, Stacy; two granddaughters.

RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Raised Presbyterian, not active anymore.

HOBBIES: “This is it. I’m an arts junkie now.”

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