Marne Zieg, 91, sits in her enclosed lanai, which doubles as her art studio, to demonstrate how she is painting her current work in acrylics. Zieg, who started painting six years ago, has won several SCC Art Club awards. LOIS KINDLE/STAFF
At 91, Marne Zieg is still a dynamo. She paints, gardens, practices T’ai chi and still dabbles in the stock market.
She also arranges flowers, cleans her own home and does her own grocery shopping. And she’s the mother of four, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of 11.
“My goal is to keep my brain, my body and my money till the end,” she said, adding she fully expects to reach 100, maybe 102. “So far, so good.”
The 30-year Sun City Center resident, who joined the local art club about six years ago, is considered a “Grandma Moses” of sorts to fellow members. Although by some standards she’s still a novice, Zieg has already won some art club awards.
“I took lessons from Roberta Snyder, Tom Haverfield and now Anne Walker,” she said. “But I’m never going to be a famous artist,” she said. “I’m just doing this for fun.”
Born and raised in Faribault, Minn., Zieg graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in nursing in 1942.
“I couldn’t stand the cold weather any longer so shortly after that I moved to the Washington, D.C. area,” she said. “That’s where my grandparents lived.”
That’s also where she met her future husband, Harry.
The pair met at a bus stop and took the same bus to work – she to an obstetrics hospital, he to a government drafting office. Within months they were married, in 1944.
“Things went really fast during the war,” Zieg said. “There was always a feeling of impending doom back then.”
After the war Zieg began growing, showing and judging chrysanthemums. It started when her husband, who grew dahlias at the time, encouraged her to take a class in flower arranging. She did and afterward went to a show where she saw some beautiful mums. That started a 40-year hobby, which ended when the couple retired to Sun City Center in 1983, after raising four children. Zieg still lives in the home they purchased.
The pair shared many interests. When they were younger they fished, made stained glass, traveled to national chrysanthemum shows and gardened. After moving to Sun City Center, they joined the gardening club and had just started dance lessons when he died in 1988.
“After he died I wanted to travel, and if I had waited for someone to go with me, I’d never have gone,” Zieg said. “So I signed up with Elder Hostel, stayed at universities, took classes and traveled all over the world. Eventually I even found a friend to go on cruises with me.”
“Marne’s a real inspiration, an incredible person,” said Virginia Laudano, longtime Sun City Center Arts Club member. “She has so much energy and is always upbeat, laughing and smiling. She’s truly fun to be around.”
That’s a matter of choice for Zieg.
“Life is as good as you make it. Whether it’s happy or dreary is up to you,” she said, adding she’s now going through one of the best times of her life. “I’m responsible for no one but me, I have plenty of friends and I do what I want. What could be better than that?”