Robert Henry Zimmerman

Memorial services for Robert Henry Zimmerman, 91, Lawrence will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 3, 2015 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence, with Father Pat Riley officiating. Private family inurnment will follow at a later date.

Mr. Zimmerman died Sunday, December 28, 2014, at Medicalodges of Eudora. He was born May 27, 1923, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the son of William and Adelia Zimmerman.

Mr. Zimmerman graduated from Eudora High School in 1941. He then worked for the Boeing Company in Wichita for two years. He served from April 1944 to May 1946 in World War II as a private first class in the Army Air Corps. After the war, he attended the University of Kansas for two years.

He and Barbara Bright were married on December 27, 1947, in Lawrence. She preceded him in death in May 2012.

In 1946, Mr. Zimmerman and his brother, Lee, opened Zimmerman Hardware, which later became Coast to Coast Hardware, at 19th and Massachusetts streets. After Lee opened Zimmerman Steel Company, Bob and Barbara Zimmerman operated the hardware store, which they retired from in 1992.

Mr. Zimmerman was a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the American Legion, and was the oldest member of the Lawrence Lions Club, which he joined in 1946, the year it was chartered. In addition, Mr. Zimmerman had been active in the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and had served on the city board of zoning appeals. He was co-chairman of the Lawrence Bicentennial Committee. And he was a member of the Lawrence Tennis Association and organized the Lawrence Open for many years. Mr. Zimmerman qualified in tennis for three national Senior Olympics.

Survivors include his son and daughter-in-law, Alan Zimmerman and Caroline Trowbridge, Lawrence; his granddaughter, Sarah Zimmerman, Lawrence; his brother, H. Lee Zimmerman, Lake Dabinawa; and two sisters, Kathryn Heylman, Spokane, Wash., and Carolyn Engelken, Denver.

The family will receive friends from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Douglas County Visiting Nurses/Hospice or Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association for renovation of the rehabilitation units on the Fourth Floor and may be sent in care of the mortuary.

9 Condolences

  1. Jerry Collins on December 30, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Sorry to see my friend leave us. Bob was one of the most interesting and caring person you will ever meet. He cared about people and made you feel it when he listened to you. An amazing man that lived a most rich and interesting life. So long Bob, it was a blessing for us to be a small part of your life.

  2. Michael Zimmerman on December 30, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Alan, Caroline, and Sarah…..

    So sorry for your loss. Mr. Zimmerman was always a positive, great guy to be around. I will miss him.

    Michael Zimmerman

  3. Laura, Keith, Zoe & Oliver Diaz Moore on December 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    We are so sorry to hear that Bob passed away. He was such a special friend and wonderful neighbor. He was always so happy and kind and interesting. Loved each and every story he would tell us. It was always comforting to see him sitting outside his front door on Barker Ave ready for a conversation. He was like an adopted grandfather for us as well as for the neighborhood. We feel lucky to have known both Bob and Barb.

  4. Steve Hammig on December 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss. Bob was great family friend and always had time to stop and talk. He will be greatly missed.

  5. Tom Kurata on December 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to the Zimmerman family on the loss of Bob. He will always be remembered as a great human being and a true gentleman.

    While I could be wrong, I don’t believe Bob was ever professionally trained in tennis. As I recall, Bob started playing regularly in his late 40s or early 50s.

    There was nothing remarkable about Bob’s serve, tennis strokes or footwork. However, any player who cast him off as a pushover on the tennis court was in for a rude awakening.

    It was Bob’s mental game–the power of positive thinking–that stood out and often propelled him to numerous court victories against players with far superior tennis skills.

    For his age and experience level, Bob’s greatest weapons on the tennis court were uncommon tenacity and patience. It helped that he was in decent physical condition. During the heat and humidity of the Lawrence Open tennis tournaments played in August in the mid to late 1970s, I witnessed on several occasions how Bob sliced and diced stronger and more experienced opponents by patiently and softly “moon-balling” them to death with well placed shots at his opponents’s baseline. His infrequent drop shots were well disguised and definitely got inside the heads of his opponents. Bob was simply one of the most intelligent tennis players I ever saw, and he always found a way to turn his weaknesses to great advantage. He knew himself and what he could and could not do on the tennis court. In the end, Bob simply never gave up until the last point had been played. He rightly earned the respect and admiration of many tennis players wherever he played.

    Whether in victory or defeat, Bob was one of the most gracious tennis players ever. He drowned his opponents with compliments and was always humble in accepting congratulations on a well played match.

    Bob, you touched so many of us by who you were both on and off the tennis court. And for that I thank you for the lessons I learned from you. Rest in peace and I will catch up with you someday.

  6. Kenna Tait on December 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Caroline, Alan & Sarah,

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Bob was such a great guy, and he will be missed.
    Take good care!


  7. Kim Murphree on January 1, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Heartfelt condolences on the loss of your loved one. You are in our prayers.

  8. Terri & Mike Dann on January 2, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Our sympathy and love to you.

  9. B.M. on January 9, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Sorry for your loss. May you find comfort at God’s promise recorded at Rev 21: 3-4. My condolences to you all.

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