Carol Zimmer was never one to let life get in the way of living.The longtime volunteer leader, one of Arlington’s most energetic and visible, died March 1 after a three-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was 65.Given the diversions of her eight grandchildren and the setbacks of illness, Mrs. Zimmer could have honorably retired from her commitments years ago but didn’t.“She knew how to throw a fabulous party, and even in her last year she’d be going about checking every detail on her little scooter,” said Stephen Zimmer, her husband. The pair met and lived for a time in Venezuela, where the Trinidad-born Mrs. Zimmer grew up.Despite losing most of her essential motor functions, she “had a huge smile, and was as active as ever,” her husband said.“She hosted Bible study as late as last Monday and had just bought a table for the Dream Makers Luncheon,” he said, referring to a scholarship fundraiser for the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, an organization Mrs. Zimmer supported.For the better part of three decades, Mrs. Zimmer lent her time and talent to a host of causes, frequently donating the use of her home for their benefit.She was equally known for her philanthropy — friends said it wasn’t unusual for her to quietly supplement charity events with her own funds — as she was her perpetually stylish attire and distinctive accent, something friends missed hearing when her illness forced her to begin talking via an electronic tablet.In 2012, Mrs. Zimmer was honored with the Legacy of Women Award from SafeHaven of Tarrant County for her contributions to the community.Community organizations she supported included Friends of the Levitt Pavilion, Arlington Life Shelter, Rotary Club of Arlington, Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Delta Gamma, Cook Children’s, Young Life and the PTA.“Carol and Steve have been instrumental in the success of the Levitt since its inception,” said Patti Diou, executive director for the Levitt Pavilion. “They hosted a capital campaign celebration for us and opened their home for the Levitt many times. Carol also served as the chairman of our first two benefit concerts.“She was a perfectionist and a consummate host and one of the kindest people I’ve ever known,” said Diou.One event with which Mrs. Zimmer is most closely associated is the Cinderella Charity Ball, a fundraiser for Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington. Besides supporting her three daughters’ Miss Cinderella candidacy for the debutante-styled affair, Mrs. Zimmer worked for more than 20 years on the event committee.“Carol was the gift in our lives that’s unexpected but lasts a lifetime, bringing joy to your soul each day,” said Karen Bass, a Cinderella Ball volunteer and one of Mrs. Zimmer’s closest friends. “For many years she gave me beautiful rings as gifts, and one year I placed all of them on a chain and wore them as a necklace to her birthday party.“She was the kindest and most generous friend and someone who impacted people in ways she never even realized,” Bass said.In the end, Mrs. Zimmer’s generosity was perhaps her signature trait and her role as a mother the one she most cherished.“She was always giving gifts to her doctors and nurses, to everyone,” her husband recalled. “One time a bank teller admired some jewelry she was wearing, and Carol took it off and gave it to her.“When she was in her 20s, she started a personnel agency that placed secretaries, and with Carol being Carol, it became very successful and she was soon placing executives,” he went on. “But she sold it because it was important to her that she stay at home with her kids.“She leaves a legacy of wonderful motherhood, and of advice to her daughters to be good mothers and to be strong and independent,” he said.Besides her husband, Mrs. Zimmer is surivived by her daughters, Susy Smith, Debbie Henderson and Nicky Sewell. She also is survived by her mother, two brothers, a sister and eight grandchildren.
Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. Contributions may be made in her name to ALS charities or to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.