Thursday, April 25, 2024

William 'Bill' Zimmerman, 98

| December 9, 2020 1:00 AM

William F. Zimmerman, 98, a longtime resident of Coeur d’Alene, passed away on Nov. 23, 2020, at his assisted living home. He and wife, Helen, would frequently declare that the best and happiest years of their lives, though, were spent in the mid-century modern lakefront home they built on Bennett Bay in 1969. It was precious to them.

Born in 1922 to Mildred (“The best friend a kid ever had,” he’d often say,) and G. Frank Zimmerman of Spokane, Wash., Bill enjoyed a lively childhood on the South Hill. From Mildred he learned about trust. She trusted him to take the family car on short-distance errands when he was still in elementary school. Clearly, he presented an image of responsibility at an early age. From his sister Frances he learned about readiness. She taught him to tie his shoes. From Frank he learned about self-discipline, the benefit of hard work and how to make the leap from efficient caddie to proficient golfer at the Downriver Golf Course. It made for a good beginning.

Upon graduation from Lewis and Clark High School, Bill turned his sights on advancing his education at Washington State College. At the time he had the idea of becoming a dentist. Though he found classes engrossing and fraternity life at the Beta house convivial, his questing instincts convinced him that his future was in another enterprise entirely. Shortly thereafter he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and found himself in a job that suited him right down to the ground. The precision of a signalman’s duties aboard ship appealed to his inborn exacting nature. He served from Oct. 30, 1942 until the time of his honorable discharge in 1946.

Once back in Spokane, Bill took up employment at the family meat processing/purveying business. Whether pushing a broom or managing the company’s accounts, he applied a no-nonsense approach to the task at hand. The same principle came into play after he met and was bowled over by Helen Clark, a teller at the Old National Bank. Their courtship was brisk and fun and Bill wound up participating in activities that he might not have chosen for himself. If Helen was enthusiastic about an endeavor, though, he cooperated. From square dancing (in full Western attire!) to attending Helen’s evening softball games (even sponsoring team trips to regional tournaments) or working as a field hand during harvest on Helen’s parents’ farm in Latah, Wash., Bill was there. The two married in the fall of 1948. They continued to reside and work in Spokane and in 1951, Helen gave birth to their daughter, Kathie. Theirs was the typical, postwar American household and it might have stayed that way, but when a family acquaintance observed that Bill had more going for him than he imagined and that he ought to strike out in search of better career opportunities, Bill agreed and immediately enrolled in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s new agent training program. More changes were soon in the offing as Bill grabbed a chance for developing a brand-new sales territory across the state line and the family moved to Coeur d’Alene in 1952. In 1953, Helen gave birth to another daughter, Julie. Bill continued to work at building a solid client base and he was so good at his job that he regularly earned one of the company’s highest honors, membership in the Metropolitan Millionaires’ Club. He maintained his unwavering work ethic and dedication to quality service throughout his professional life.

Bill was a member of Rotary and an elder in the First United Presbyterian Church. He and Helen both developed wonderful, lasting friendships with other young marrieds in the congregation. In off hours he enjoyed as many rounds of golf as time would permit and was a men’s bowling league regular. After he retired, he continued to play golf, but his creative interests led him to explore a variety of hobbies and he demonstrated a remarkable talent for them, too. He took up pottery, designed and built his own G scale railroad, and produced beautiful hand carved decoys and assorted wooden caricature figures.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents and his sister. He is survived by Helen, his wife of 72 years; daughter, Kathie Butler; daughter, Julie (David) Levine; a nephew and several nieces.

At Bill’s request, no memorial service will be held. His ashes will be interred at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane at a later date.

The family would like to express abundant heartfelt thanks to the Auburn Crest Hospice team and the good and kind staff at the Coeur d’Alene Pacifica Courtyard for the very tender care they offered Bill in his last days.

Bill’s memory may be honored with a donation to his favorite charity, the Union Gospel Mission, 196 W. Haycraft Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815.

Yates Funeral Home is entrusted with final arrangements. Please visit Bill’s online memorial and sign his guest book at