If you are reading this, a wonderful man named Fred, Fritz, Mr. Z, Daddy-O, and dad is walking his many beloved dogs on his new journey in Heaven. His pockets are stuffed with dog treats and he’s got a loyal following of four-legged friends following him.
Frederick William Zimmerer passed away on Saturday, January 8, 2022. A pisces, Fred was born February 20th, 1936 in Wausau, the youngest of John and Irene (Stephani) Zimmerer’s sons. He graduated from Wausau Senior High School in 1955. As a teenager, he became involved with the Boy Scouts and his troop became active with Native American tribes in northern Wisconsin. He studied their legends, costumes, crafts and dancing. Fred learned the flaming hoop technique and his troop danced at fairgrounds and outdoor activities. They traveled to the Boy Scout jamboree, and spent several weeks traveling by bus.
After graduating from high school, Fred enlisted in the US Navy for four years. A captain’s driver, he traveled to many exotic ports and drove many highly-ranked military officers.
Art was always of special interest to Fred, and in 1960 he began his art training at Layton School of Art and Design in Milwaukee. He was there for several years until his GI Bill funding ran out and he took miscellaneous jobs (tv production, tour guide for a brewing co., underground tunneling, stagehand) until the GI Bill returned. At that time, he entered University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and finished his art training and teaching accreditation status. He was hired in Kohler as the high school art teacher in 1975, and retired from there in 1995. One of his greatest joys was working with those students in small groups in a noteworthy school. He loved teaching, but more than that, he loved his students. All of them. He kept in touch with many of them all of these years and was so proud of them. Dad would visit the graves of his departed students...always commenting on how he couldn’t believe how many kids he lost. If you ever received a check mark from Mr. Z in class....he had such a big heart, he probably didn’t follow through on that check mark and forgave you quickly. You probably recall how Mr. Z. was passionate about the importance of creativity. Whether you became a surgeon, accountant, engineer, performance artist or pony-tailed free spirit....the importance of creativity was one of dad’s core beliefs and he always hoped he instilled this belief in his students. Dad worked hard in creating an emotionally safe place for his students whether they were in the art room or art studio at Kohler High.
Dad always stood up for everyone. His warmth and generosity were obvious the second you met him. Dad always saw the good in everyone, even if he didn’t agree with them. Dad is passionate about equality for all and in helping those in need and contributing to organizations which help people in need, protecting our environment and animals.
Fred married Janice Christensen, his wife of 60+ years in Wausau on August 12, 1961. They had two children: Trent and Tara. With his wife and children, he traveled through the country and Europe. History was important to him, and he wrote two books about his family – one grandfather was a brewmaster and the other grandfather owned several meat markets in Sheboygan. Libraries were very special to Fred as well, and he volunteered at both Mead Library and the Sheboygan Falls Memorial Library. He was a voracious reader of history, Native American Indian studies, autobiographies about Hemingway and Lincoln. He took his family on trips and dragged his wife and kids to every museum and art center. Dad, we thank you now. At the time, we just wanted to go in a pool!
Fred was so outgoing and walked many times daily. He made a point to talk to everyone, and he always had a story to tell. He loved to garden and was so proud of his little nursery of Chinese Maple trees which he’d grown from little tiny seedlings. He wanted everyone to see his garden. He loved his farm and orchards in Door County and his association with all the artists and art lovers there.
If you were lucky, you made it on dad’s butterhorn list. It would take dad two days to create these sweet rolls. He would give them to friends, neighbors, and anyone who touched his heart. The last batch he baked went to the nurses administering the booster shot at the health department. That was our dad.
Fred loved his family, and was very proud of his roots. He is survived by his wife Janice, and two children Trent and Tara, both of Sheboygan, who love their dedicated and loving dad immensely. Dad loved his kids and wife unconditionally and they know how lucky they are as he worked so very hard for them. He is also survived by a very loyal corgi named Murphy, two older brothers Robert (Mary) Zimmerer and John Zimmerer, loving nieces, nephews and first and second cousins from both the Zimmerer and Stephani sides of his family. Everyone loves Fritz and he loved you too. Even though we all live a distance apart, dad’s extended family was always always close to his heart.
Thanks and a note of appreciation to all his former students and friends who rallied around him these last months. Parkinson’s Disease slowed him down at times, but Fred accepted the challenge and his friends helped him to stay positive. The staff at Froedtert Hospital were amazing, and he thanked each caregiver personally. They all got to know dad in the time he was there.
A public celebration of Fred’s life is being planned for summer 2022 where students, family and friends can gather to honor his life.
Memorials in his name to his favorite charities would be appreciated: Soaring Eagle in Billings, MT (a public charity for the elders) or St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD.
If you never met Fred, know that he made this world a better place and his existence may already be enhancing your life without you even knowing it. If you knew Fred, we hope he touched your heart in some way, or at the very least, got you to think outside the box, to be kind and generous to one another.
Wenig Funeral Home – Sheboygan Falls (920-467-3431) is assisting the family with arrangements. Please visit www.wenigfh.com for more information or to leave online condolences.