Rex Martin Zimmerman died December 11, 2015 peacefully at his home at age 90 of natural causes. He was the beloved husband of the late Bette Arlene Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman was a longtime resident of Virginia Beach, VA. Born March 15, 1925 in Orrville, Ohio, he was the son of Harvey and Delpha Smyser Zimmerman and stepmother Evelyn Gilmore Zimmerman. Rex attended Orrville High School.
Upon graduation in 1943, he answered the call to duty and served in WWII in the U.S. Navy as a Third Class Fire Control Officer on the DE USS Tills from July 1943 – April 1946. Returning from the war, Rex attended Wittenberg University in Ohio where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Business in 1949. While there, he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. It was here that he met the love of his life, Bette, and the couple was married in 1950 – a union that lasted 53 years until her death in 2003. The couple settled in Orrville, Ohio, where Rex went to work for Smuckers as a Sales Rep.
Following graduation, Rex once again answered the call of his country and from June 1951 – October 1952 served in the Korean War as a Third Class Fire Control Officer onboard the USS Harry E. Hubbard. In addition to his gunnery duties, because of his excellent communications skills he became the “talker,” relaying all commands to the ship.
Upon his return from this deployment, Rex returned to Smuckers until 1953 when he was hired by IBM and he and Bette moved to Toledo where all three of their children were born. Rex remained with IBM for 17 years. As a key salesman with the Federal Systems Division where his primary client was NASA, Rex was instrumental in providing the hardware for the computers on the early space missions and witnessed several of the Gemini and Apollo launches. With IBM, the family moved to Bethesda, MD, Virginia Beach, VA, and Rockville, MD.
After leaving IBM, Rex held various positions in Sales and Sales Management with Tracor, SBC, and RCA/Univac. In 1976, he left the technical sales life and fulfilled his and Bette’s life dream of opening their own store in Virginia Beach. Yarn Haven, a popular yarn, knitting and needlecraft store on Shore Drive was their “baby” for over 20 years. While Bette was the teacher and design maven, Rex managed the business side and provided their clients with kindness and patience as they learned how to knit.
When Yarn Haven closed, Rex turned his interpersonal skills to the real estate market. Until his late 80s, Rex was a commercial realtor with Select Realty, Inc. in Virginia Beach. Rex was an active member of the Broad Bay Sailing Association and crewed in many races as well as bareboating with fellow BBSA members in the Caribbean. He was an avid golfer and gardener. He kept his Wolfsnare neighbors fed with the bounty of his vegetable garden. He was also a wonderful cook, specializing in birthday tacos and turkeys on a Weber grill.
Rex was a loving father and grandfather. He is survived by his daughters, Diane Hinz of Virginia Beach, Laura (Steve) Greer of Gaithersburg, MD and his son, Thomas (Connie) Zimmerman of Dover, NH; his granddaughters, Ashley Greer Willis (Will Willis) and Stephanie Morgan Greer (Adam Cath); and his grandson, Tom Turner.
A celebration of Rex’s life will be held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1489 Laskin Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, (757) 428-4052, in the New Year. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Heartland Hospice in Rex’s memory, online at HeartlandHospiceFund.org or by check to “Heartland Hospice Memorial Fund,” 5041 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200, Virginia Beach, VA 23462.
A private family service held on Saturday. Condolences may be left for family at familychoicefunerals.com.
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