Margaret Ruth Zimmerman: 1924-2013

Wife and Mother

My mother, Margaret, was the 1950s version of a superwoman. Her biggest joy was family, and she loved to have her entire clan at her home; she was never happier than when they were all together. (She also loved wildflowers, golf, the Dodgers, needlework, dogs, and the written and spoken word.) For more than 50 years, Margaret and my father, Sam Zimmerman, lived in the Santa Barbara home that Margaret designed and Sam built.

Born in Long Beach, California, the second daughter of Howard and Ruth Hicks, Margaret graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Pomona College in 1944. She married Sam Zimmerman in 1945, and they lived in Long Beach, Baldwin Park, and West Covina before moving to Santa Barbara in 1956. After her marriage, she devoted herself to her husband and family.

Margaret was a tireless worker, keeping books for Sam’s many enterprises and working in his law office as his legal secretary and de facto paralegal — all the while shopping, cooking, cleaning, and keeping tabs on her three children. Margaret was always there for her children, helping with homework, attending baseball games and horse shows, and making campaign posters. She spent time with her grandchildren whenever she could and attended countless ballets and soccer games.

Margaret could make anything, from leather chaps for her son, Bob, and her daughter Mary to seat and window covers for her husband’s plane. She even hand-painted gift tags at Christmas! She was also active in the community, first in the Cooperative Nursery School and the PTA, and in local elections, and later acting as the president of the Symphony League. She and Sam were longtime members of La Cumbre Country Club, where Margaret played golf once or twice a week and had more than one hole-in-one. She was the president of the Women’s Auxiliary and had a lot of fun as a member of La Cumbre Crazy Choristers. As longtime members of Los Fiesteros dance club, she and Sam hosted elaborate theme parties at their home, such as the memorable African Safari, and Firefly.

Margaret stayed active well into her eighties, learning to use a word processor and Quicken to do Sam’s books. She and Sam traveled to many places in their retirement: Europe, Africa, Russia, Mexico, Hawai‘i, Australia, and New Zealand. She also indulged Sam’s penchant for more adventurous travel — camping in the desert, riding horses on Sierra Nevada pack trips, accompanying hunting parties, and acting as the navigator when Sam flew his small plane to Alaska. In her 75th year, she hiked to over 8,000 feet at the Sierra Buttes.

She lived the last five years of her life at Aegis of Aptos; her family wishes to thank the amazing staff for their exceptional and kind care. We also want to thank Hospice of Santa Cruz for the kindness and support we received there.

Margaret is survived by her children and their spouses, Carol and Roger Nilsen of Laguna Beach, Mary and Jim McKenna of Aptos, and Robert and Melanie Zimmerman of Santa Barbara; her grandchildren and their spouses, Alissa and Jacob Swartz, Meredith and Charlie McMahon, Brenna Zimmerman, and Heather McKenna; and one great-grandchild, Eli Swartz. Her husband of 62 years, Sam Zimmerman, and her sister, Betty Hicks, preceded her in death.

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