Gerald E. Zimmerman
Dr. Gerald E. Zimmerman of Shepherdstown, W.Va. passed away on Feb. 8, 2020, at the age of 74.
Born in Akron, OH on Aug. 8, 1945, Jerry was raised by his loving parents John and Ann Zimmerman in the town of Stow, OH, and grew up alongside big sister Catherine Caruthers, who still resides in their hometown. From an early age, Jerry developed a profound love for music, and as the years went by, this passion would be complimented (and arguably surpassed) by his commitment to education and everlasting love for his wife, children, grandchildren and extended family.
After graduating from Stow High School in 1963, Jerry gracefully embarked on an impressive academic journey. Beginning at Bowling Green State University, he obtained a bachelor’s in music education, which would almost immediately be accompanied by a master’s degree in music performance from Ithaca College in New York. This formal scholastic journey culminated at West Virginia University at which he obtained his Ph.D. in music education in 1978.
This impressive academic career is undoubtedly overshadowed by his tireless career as a music educator. Over his professional tenure, Jerry taught at all levels of the educational system and did so for nearly 50 years. As such, he was responsible for teaching, mentoring and caring for literally thousands of students. While his first full-time teaching position began in his home state of Ohio (at Twinsburg Public Schools), Jerry’s career in music really took off at West Virginia University, where he wore many hats (including acting director of bands, assistant professor and director of jazz ensembles). After four amazing years at WVU, Jerry accepted a position at Shepherd College, and for 13 years, he would serve as associate professor of music and director of bands.
While residing in this beautiful small town, he would meet the love of his life in Mary Ann (Loy) Zimmerman, to whom he was married for nearly 30 years until her passing in Oct. 2011. The love shared between Jerry and Mary Ann was deep and everlasting. This devotion for one another gradually expanded in scope and intensity, providing the perfect environment for their two beautiful children (Alyson and Jeremy Zimmerman), loving daughter-in-law (Jillian Zimmerman) and highly amusing grandchildren (Margaux and Theodore Zimmerman) to grow.
After Shepherd, Jerry’s next musical endeavor was with the Millbrook Chamber Orchestra, for which he was a charter member and acted as the organization’s music director and conductor. Jerry devoted the last two decades of his career in education to teaching instrumental music at both the secondary and primary levels of the Frederick County Public School system in Maryland, and upon his formal retirement from teaching, Jerry found great joy and purpose teaching music courses through Shepherd University’s Lifelong Learning Program.
Jerry’s exhaustive career in music education was driven by a deep conviction that education serves as the major hope of our society. To realize this hope, he believed educators (regardless of discipline) must be principally focused on preparing their students for life in a free, democratic society in which they have the opportunity and responsibility to make wise choices and are capable of positively impacting their individual lives and communities. Undoubtedly, he loved music (all music), but he most importantly viewed his subject as an ideal vehicle through which his students could learn these essential life skills that would enable their pursuit of a better life. Throughout his career, his supervisors, colleagues and students marveled at his passion for and impressive knowledge of music, the preparedness and organization with which he managed his classrooms, and the sincere love, care and respect he showed for all students.
To celebrate the wonderful life of Jerry, a memorial service was held at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church on Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. A reception followed the service at the Bavarian Inn.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations to be made to either St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church.