A longtime and well-known local resident who once said community service was “in her genes” died at home in Camas early Saturday morning.
Judy Zimmerman, an accomplished musician and international traveler who with her husband Hal was publisher of the Camas-Washougal Post-Record for 23 years, was 84 years old at the time of her death.
According to her son Steve, she suffered a debilitating stroke four months ago, and had a second stroke about a week ago.
Zimmerman was born in Seattle and graduated from Roosevelt High School. She then went on to attend the University of Washington where she majored in home economics and minored in journalism. She was selected as editor of “The Tyee,” the university yearbook, earning $50 a month for the 1947 edition. She graduated magna cum laude as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
After meeting in a college news writing class, Judy and Hal married and soon after became owners and publishers of the Cowlitz County Advocate. After spending seven years in Castle Rock, they moved to Camas in 1957, when they purchased the Post-Record and became its co-owners and co-publishers.
Judy was also Hal’s partner in politics when he was elected and became a 17th District state representative in 1966 and then state senator from 1980 to 1988.
According to Steve, his mother was involved in many different activities and causes, but music and the church were her two loves.
An oboe and English horn player from a young age, she also learned how to play the piano and pipe organ. She joined the Vancouver Pops Orchestra in 1987, and played with the group up until just a couple of years ago. She also played with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for 25 years.
Longtime Camas resident Brent Erickson described Zimmerman as a “great lady,” who was very active in Camas United Methodist Church. Her adventures included taking youth on service trips to Mexico and Alaska, as well as teaching Sunday school and coordinating Christmas plays and pageants.
“Hal and Judy were very instrumental and influential in a lot of young people’s lives,” he said. “They touched a lot of people.”
International travel and studies weaved throughout Zimmerman’s life. From 1985 to 2006, she served on the board of directors of the American Center for Oriental Research. As an exchange director for the Columbia-Cascade Friendship Force, she led local ambassadors to Yugoslavia in 1986. With the United Methodist Jubilate Choir, she traveled to Australia’s Expo ’88 and Japan’s 1990 World Exposition.
In 2007, Zimmerman was recognized for her life’s work by being named a Clark County Woman of Achievement.
At that time, she said as the daughter of Walter Williams who served as the under secretary of commerce in the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, she was destined for a life of service.
“It’s in my genes,” she said.
In addition to her husband of 64 years Hal, son Steve and his wife Janice and their six children of Vancouver, Judy is survived by a daughter Karen and her longtime companion Ben of Camas. The couple’s daughter Judi Jean was tragically murdered in 1981 while traveling in Mexico.
Steve Zimmerman said planning is underway for a memorial service for his mom that will be held at Camas United Methodist Church in the near future.