Anthony “Tony” Ziller
Anthony “Tony” Ziller, age 78, of Olivia, Minnesota passed away on March 7, 2023, surrounded by his family at the Mayo Clinic Hospital – St. Mary’s Campus in Rochester. Visitation will be held from 9 to 11am on Saturday, May 27 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bird Island. Mass of Christian Burial will follow the visitation with Rev. George Schmit as celebrant. The family will host a gathering and meal immediately after mass at Max’s Grill in Olivia, Minnesota. A private burial will take place at a later date in the St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bird Island. Memorials are preferred to St. Mary’s School in Bird Island. Arrangements are by Dirks-Blem Funeral Service of Olivia.
Tony was born on February 12, 1945 to Anthony A. Ziller and Mabel M. Ziller (Gunter). He and his sister Maureen were raised on the family farm in Bird Island.
Tony graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1963 and went on to earn a degree in agriculture from South Dakota State University. Shortly thereafter, Tony married the love of his life, Bernadette Ziller (Wohnoutka), on June 26, 1965. Tony and Bernie began their life together on the family farm where Tony joined his father in the farm/seed business, together forming Ziller Seed Company.
Tony and Bernie raised their three children, Danette, Jeff, and Katina, on the family farm. During this time, Tony found great joy in farming and operating Ziller Seed Company with his son Jeff. Ziller Seed Company achieved multiple awards and recognition from Minnesota Crop Improvement Association, AgriPro Wheat, and other organizations for outstanding sales performance and dedication to seed quality improvement. Tony was recognized individually for exemplary service to the seed industry as well as outstanding leadership in agriculture. Although Tony’s passion for Ziller Seed was strong, his greatest joy came from spending time with his wife and children. Bernie and Tony took many trips together and enjoyed golfing and snowmobiling with friends. Most important to both of them was attending and cheering on their children in all activities—from musicals and plays to sporting events in just about every sport offered by Bird Island High School and then BOLD.
Community was an important part of Tony’s life. He was on the Board of Trustees and a Finance Committee member for St. Mary’s church and sang for many years in the church choir for masses, weddings, and other church celebrations. Tony was a long time member of the Bird Island Lions Club and was a lifetime honorary member of Knights of Columbus. Tony also enjoyed his service as a Board member of the State Bank of Bird Island and was active in many aspects of the Olivia Golf Club.
After Tony “retired,” he and Bernie began to winter in Bonita Springs, Florida, where they quickly created another close family of friends. Tony loved all things about Florida—sunny skies and plenty of time for reading, golfing, bocce ball, pool parties, outdoor concerts, and many relaxing times with friends and family.
When not wintering in Florida, Tony spent much of his time cheering on and supporting his grandchildren, whom he absolutely adored. From the many graduations and other celebrations to the countless sporting events—Grandpa Tony was a super fan and a tremendous supporter in all aspects of his grandchildren’s lives. But even more important to his grandkids, Grandpa Tony frequently shared his stories and experiences, was a sturdy rock for all of them to lean on, and loved each of them unconditionally.
Tony loved life with his family with every ounce of his being. He will be dearly missed by his beloved wife of 57 years, Bernadette; son Jeff (Tonya) Ziller of Bird Island, daughter Katina (Dave) Peterson of Minnetonka, MN, son-in-law Kent Wierschem of Spicer, Minnesota; cherished grandchildren Tanner, Marcus, and Connor Wierschem, Ryan, Anthony, Savanna, and Nichole Ziller, Lily and Hunter Peterson; great-grandchildren Skyla, Micah, and Moxon Ziller; sister Maureen (John) Sanger of Shoreview, MN; his much loved brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, and so many other special relatives and friends. Tony was preceded in death by his parents, his daughter Danette, his grandson Michael, his brother-in-law Maynard Wanetka, his sister-in-law Marie Barkow, his brother-in-law Pat Kneefe and his brother-in-law Jerry Dunning and infant nephew Jerry Lee Dunning.
Blessed Be His Memory