John Zeigler has nearly seen it all. He’s lived through both World Wars, survived the Great Depression and Great

birthdayRecession, and lived under the rule of 18 different U.S. presidents, beginning with William Howard Taft.

And today, February 5, 2015, Mr. Zeigler, one of the College’s oldest and dearest friends, turns 103 years old.

READ: See how the College’s School of the Arts celebrated Zeigler’s 100th birthday.

Zeigler has long been a supporter of the College, especially its School of the Arts. For years he has attended weekly concerts at the College, often establishing personal connections with performers. Beyond his friendship, Zeigler has offered considerable financial support to the College, too, endowing many funds in the names of friends and family members.

How could someone part with nearly $1 million so easily? Zeigler, who was awarded an honorary degree from the College in 2011, has a simple answer:

“Whenever I see a young person who has talent and needs help. I feel like I have to do something.”

LEARN MORE: Read more about some of the School of the Arts alumni Zeigler has helped.

Zeigler through the years

From 1946 to 1971, Zeigler and his partner, the late Edwin Peacock, operated the Book Basement, one of Charleston’s most beloved bookstores, located just steps from campus. There they hosted assorted literary luminaries, many of whom were personal friends of the couple. Famous writers who visited include the poet Langston Hughes, children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, and novelist Carson McCullers, author of The Heart is A Lonely Hunter. These days, the former Book Basement at 9 College Way is part of the College and houses faculty in the Department of Communication. The old Charleston single house, the College is proud to say, still facilitates the discussion of culture and ideas.

Zeigler is himself a writer, publishing two volumes of poetry: Alaska and Beyond and The Edwin Poems. The former was partly inspired by his service as a radioman in World War II, when he was stationed in Alaska and the South Pacific. Though his military days are long past, hopefully those memories and others still burn strong. Happy 103rd birthday!