College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Remembering Sue Ziegenbusch: A bright light in ABE

Photo of Sue receiving an award

Known for her contagious enthusiasm and passion for helping others, Sue Ziegenbusch was a bright light as an academic advisor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

On June 1st, 2022, Sue passed away and left behind a legacy of laughter and passion for putting students first. Many remember Sue for her laugh, her enthusiasm and her ability to solve problems with her humor and knowledge.

Photo of Sue receiving an award
Sue receiving the College of Engineering Outstanding Advisor Award in 2012

Advising hundreds of students, Sue, often known as ‘Mrs. Z’ by the students, was a part of helping many individuals find their path to success. Sue’s impact definitely didn’t go unnoticed. In 2012, she was recognized for her outstanding advising in the department with the College of Engineering Outstanding Advisor Award, stating that ‘Sue is known for her contagious enthusiasm, passion for helping students, and ability to understand and solve curricular problems.’

“There was never a bad day while working with Sue,” Tom Brumm, faculty member in ABE that worked closely with Sue said. “She always had a smile, a laugh, a story, a silver lining, a willingness to pitch in and an eye for improvement. She helped remind me that our focus should always be what’s best for the student.”  

Not only did Sue advise students, but she also recruited them, oversaw summer and transfer orientation, coordinated and facilitated learning communities, designed newsletters and much more. When Sue was nominated for the College of Engineering Outstanding Advisor Award, her nominator said, “She knows how to help students be successful by hitting a perfect balance of accommodation and tough love. Mrs. Ziegenbusch’s positive attitude, strong work ethic, and willingness to be frank with students when needed, make her a cornerstone staff member in ABE, and for the College of Engineering.”

Photo of Sue with about fourteen students that she advised
Sue and students in the department, Sue pictured in the top right

“Sue did many wonderful things for ABE,” Ramesh Kanwar, faculty member in ABE and close friend of Sue said. “She started publishing the first online, colorful ABE Newsletter beginning 2001 and made sure that it reached all ABE alumni before Christmas every year in addition to other responsibilities.”

Sue retired in 2013, and nine years later today, her contagious laugh and positive attitude live on. 

“Sue epitomized the notion of the ABE Family,” department chair Amy Kaleita said. “She genuinely cared about students, faculty and staff, and she approached every issue with practicality, humor and compassion.”

In Sue’s last year at Iowa State, she worked with Lindsay Frueh, an advisor currently in ABE. Frueh recalls that Sue was a ray of sunshine, one of a kind and one to always check in and make sure everyone was happy.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Sue, her last year in ABE,” Frueh said. “Sue was such a gem who didn’t let things rattle her and truly knew the meaning of maintaining important relationships around campus, often delivering chocolate and caramels!! She is definitely one of a kind who left her mark in ABE.”

Far before Sue started her career at Iowa State, she had an interest in community and helping people. In college, Sue studied psychology and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. Outside of work, she spent a lot of time with family and friends, her and her husband, John Ziegenbusch, always making time for their community and relationships.

Photo of Sue with about 10 other staff members for a staff photo
ABE Staff photo from 2010. Sue is pictured on the very left in blue

Sue’s legacy will be celebrated, remembered and honored on June 18th, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Spirit Lake. To watch the live stream of the service, click here. A visitation for Sue will be held Friday, June 17th from 4:00-7:00 PM at Turner Jenness Funeral Home in Spirit Lake.

Want to share your story about the time you spent with Sue? Leave a message on her tribute wall here.