Friends called him Superman. His family knew him as a goofy dance dad. Nationally, the dental community knew him as the big, kind-hearted personality who did everything in his power to ensure free dental clinics ran smoothly.
What everyone will remember about Zach Ioerger, though, is his infectious smile — and his love for his daughter.
"He was luminant," said friend Yamir Lozada. "Guiding people with his bright smile. You couldn't help but to smile with him." Ioerger was best man at Lozada's wedding.
Ioerger, 28, died early Saturday in a crash with another car at the intersection of North Hillside and Douglas.
In both professional and personal circles, Ioerger was known as someone who wasn't afraid to do the hard work — and grin as he did it.
Ioerger was a program manager for the America's Dentists Care Foundation, an organization that helps organize and support dental clinics across the country. The foundation trucks dental equipment to various states, and program managers like Ioerger make sure that the large-scale clinics run smoothly.
"The typical feedback we got back about Zach is that he was all personality," said Bill Blasing, executive director of the foundation. "These clinics are not an easy thing to pull off, so having happy, smiling people around you is critical, and Zach was one of a kind."
On a GoFundMe page set up by his sister Elizabeth Ioerger for the family's funeral expenses, people from several states remembered Ioerger as a key person in setting up the dental clinics, helping to put healthy smiles on the underserved and uninsured. The foundation works closely with the Mission of Mercy program, and Ioerger flew as far as Alaska and Florida to help set up dental clinics.
Locally, Ioerger was perhaps best known as a dependable friend and as a loving father for his daughter Aylin.
His sister said Ioerger stopped at nothing to make sure his 7-year-old daughter "was on the right track." He brushed her hair and took her to dance class.
"He grew up with her," Elizabeth Ioerger said. "She helped him grow up to be such a good dad and she pushed him to be the dad that he was."
Lozada described Ioerger as a noble and selfless source of courage for him.
"He was an embodiment of what an excellent father should be," Lozada said. "Truth be told, I learned how to be a father because of Zach's superlative essence of being a father.
"Deep down, Zach truly cared and yearned for people to laugh with him," Lozada said. "That was his main objective, to instill joy in every person's life that he had the opportunity to meet. Whether it was in Wichita or if it was traveling with work or even online gaming, Zach had a significant impact on everyone he knew."
Such was his impact that hundreds of Ioerger's friends from Wichita and across the nation had raised $13,215 as of Thursday morning to help pay for his funeral expenses.
"He was a really sensitive teddy bear," Lozada said. "He was a big, 190-pound buff guy, but he was so sentimental. That was his love language. Helping people laugh."
Ioerger was born on May 1, 1990, in Wichita. He attended Wichita East High School and lettered in baseball. His sister said Ioerger was a lifelong athlete. When he wasn't at the pool swimming, he was playing indoor soccer. That's why it came as a surprise when a CT scan revealed that Ioerger had only one kidney. Elizabeth Ioerger said this was evidence of Ioerger's dedication to going the extra mile, even in adversity.
After high school, Ioerger briefly attended Butler Community College, then worked as an assistant manager at a local QuikTrip before beginning his job as program manager for the America's Dentists Care Foundation.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Old Mission Mortuary Chapel, 3424 E. 21st St. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the same chapel.
Ioerger is preceded in death by his grandmother Pauline Williamson and half-brother Malachi Thornton. He is survived by his mother, Suzanne Ioerger; his father, Michael Thornton; his sister, Elizabeth; his half-brothers, Kadin Jabara, Andrew Schwartz and Elijah Thornton; and his daughter, Aylin Ioerger.