Obituary of Zane Hilger
Retired Constable Zane Hilger, 68, of North Richland Hills, passed away on August 4. Zane was born in Arkansas on September 18, 1949.
Visitation will be held Tuesday August 7, from 6 to 8 pm at Forest Ridge Memorial Park Chapel, North Richland Hills.
Funeral Service will be held Wednesday August 8, 3pm at Center of Unity, Grapevine.
Interment will follow at Bourland Cemetery, Keller.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Karen Ashley Hilger, daughter Judi Hilger, sister Zanda Seaberg two grandsons, AJ Moreno and Xavier Moreno.
Zane was born in Searcy, Arkansas on September 18,1949, the son of Lowell and Joyce Hilger. He died august 4, 2018.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Karen Ashley Hilger, daughter Judi Hilger, sister Zanda Seaberg, and grandsons A.J. Moreno and Xavier Moreno. He is also survived by his two loving, spoiled dogs, Rosie and Josie.
On Memorial Day 1972 Zane met the love of his life, Karen Ashley. They married seven weeks later on October 26, and left for Chicago that afternoon as a family with 3-year old Judi. Zane had transferred to Chicago with Radio Shack and returned three years later when he was offered the job of Southwest Repair Manager. The family returned to Texas in 1975 to live in one of four partially finished houses on a dirt road next to Zane’s parents in North Richland Hills. Zane and his dad finished out the house where he and Karen lived for the rest of his life, watching North Richland Hills grow up around them.
He and Karen were known for their wit as a comedy team with him being the straight man. Anyone around them could see how devoted they were to one another.
He was proud of his daughter Judi. He respected her strong and independent personality and her work ethic with a tenure at her job of almost 30 years. Proud of Zanda and her career in human services, Zane and Zanda looked to one another for contacts and finding help for the people they served in Tarrant county. Christmas eve at Zanda’s house included teasing his grandsons and reluctant drives looking at Christmas lights with an ongoing commentary. He and Karen took grandsons AJ and Xavier to places like the holiday ice sculpture display at the gaylord hotel.
The Ashley family played a large role in Zane’s life. Zane and Karen would go to her sister Cynthia and brother-in-law don’s house for huge family thanksgiving gatherings and to Wichita falls to spend time with Karen’s parent’s tom and Mary Lou.
Don recalled a time at their house. After dinner, Zane, don, his daughter and sons would play pool. Karen would always holler in from the kitchen, "let's go home," and the kids, wanting Zane to stay longer. Would holler back, "rack 'em up again." game after game went on to keep Zane there having fun until it was late and Karen would have to come into the pool room and drag Zane away.
Karen, Zane, Cynthia, and don took the kids to lake Palestine one weekend to camp and fish. It was the first time to fish for my boys and Zane really wanted to show them the fun of the sport. We fished for a couple of hours but caught only little crappy about 3 to 4 inches long. But Zane was determined to show the boys what fishing was about so he brought them back to camp and cooked fish for them. Each fish was only a bite after he cleaned them but he was determined to show the boys the joys of fishing.
Middle son don jr., told don that hearing of Zane’s passing, he said that Zane had been instrumental in putting the love of electronics into him when he would pair up with Zane and talk computers with him for hours. Don went on to have a career in that field and still does to this day.
When Mindy was just a baby, Zane would pick her up to say goodbye after a dinner or family reunion and let her touch his mustache as he wiggled his upper lip to make it move up and down. She would just laugh and laugh. She had never been around anyone with a mustache. Then as she got a little older, he would just wiggle it and she would wiggle her upper lip back at him. That move became a family tradition when we would part, the wiggle of the mustache.
Zane, Karen don, and Cynthia went on a couple of vacations together. One was on a plane and hotel rooms to Las Vegas and boulder dam. The others were in our camper and their camper. Those were great times.
Although he enjoyed a successful corporate career, he found his life’s work in law enforcement, politics, and public service. What defined Zane’s legacy was as constable of Tarrant county precinct 3. Starting as a volunteer constable, he attended the police academy and was eventually chief deputy. He was appointed to serve out his predecessor’s expired term. In November of 1986 he won his first election and ran unopposed until his retirement in 2011 after 30 years. Well respected in the community and known for his unwavering ethics, he had a generous and helpful nature. He had the ability to defuse tense situations and mediate conflicts.
Zane’s mentors tom wilder and sandy Prindle pointed his way into politics. Karen said, “Zane loved America, every minute of his life as a constable, and felt honored that he was serving the community. He was the consummate constable, always learning and innovating.”
His leadership was recognized when he was elected as president of the state justice of the peace and constable association. In this role, he worked closely with state legislators, often in Austin helping craft legislation that would enhance his ability to serve the citizens of Tarrant county and the entire state.
He was a member of several Rotary clubs and sponsored the first woman in the local Rotary, Carol Record, minister of Center of Hope Church of Grapevine, who officiated at his funeral at her church. He was active in many community and political organizations.
Zane was always an animal lover with a life filled with beloved dogs and eventually his mother’s cats. He founded the Tarrant county estray program which rescued cattle, horses, goats, pigs or any livestock wondering loose anywhere in the county. The program continues through the sheriff’s department. When his dad was alive, Zane and his family and friends were often herding his parent’s cattle from one rented pasture to another down roads in what was then sparsely populated north Richland hills and Keller. At one time, the herd included a buffalo which was moved to his parent’s large backyard and eventually donated to the LBJ ranch.
Loving the outdoors, from September through December Zane was seldom home. He was camping in his travel trailer, sitting in deer blinds, and “hunting.” He had as an impressive gun collection. While hunting, he listened to a lot of audio books and never seemed very concerned when he didn’t shoot anything. He loved to fish and had a boat. Many of his work friends joined him for his outdoor hobbies.
Zane got his love of traveling from his parent’s treks across America, his father’s air national guard postings, and his grandfather’s RV. With his own RV, Karen and Zane traveled to Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Imagine passing an RV towing a jeep with a kayak strapped to the top. Zane, Karen, Judi, and sometimes Zanda spent weekends floating down the Guadalupe river or camping on many lakes.
One July 4th weekend the family camped on Benbrook lake and his parents came out to visit. When an unexpected thunderstorm came up, the high winds blew the boat loose from where it was tied up. With help from nearby campers, Zane swam out and towed it back. When he returned to the tent, the rest of the family was stacking camping gear floating in two inches of water. The five of them were trapped in the floating tent until the storm past.
Zane loved motorcycles! From the earliest one that he and his dad worked on, his competitive dirt bikes, his Gold Wing, and his last and favorite, a Harley Electroglide. He spent many hours enjoying the road and long trips with friends and even an Arkansas cousin. He was an active member of the blue knights, a motorcycle fun and service club of current and retired law enforcement professionals. He made sure Karen enjoyed riding motorcycles with the he made sure Karen enjoyed riding motorcycles with the best riding gear. The last vehicle on his bucket list was a bright yellow Corvette ZR1.
Zane also loved the indoors. He had the latest electronic gadgets and he always had the best. Many people still remember the tallest antenna around for his ham radio that many used as a way to know they were not far from his house. He had the early beta max VCR, giant rear projection television and each new generation of bigger and better electronic televisions with his current 75” television. He built electronic kits as a child and could fix anything. He was tech savvy and had early computer and internet skills, loving every new technology. Like his father, Zane was good at making deals. He bought big boy toys and sold them.
Although his health declined in the last few years he never lost his love of America, politics and current events. Zane was a man who lived life with great passion and energy, leaving behind memories and legacies that live on.
Memorial Park: (817) 428-9500
Memorial Park: (817) 428-9500
Memorial Park Chapel | 8525 Mid-Cities Blvd. North Richland Hills, TX 76180
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