George Zimmerman, a highly respected jurist and mediator, died on April 3 in Las Cruces. He was 89. He was a member of the first graduating class of the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Zimmerman was born and raised in Waynesburg, PA, and served in World War II as a commissioned officer in the 8th Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division in Tokyo, Japan. He met his wife, Reneé Sayers, in Tokyo and they were married after the war in Pittsburgh. He attended Temple University and earned his bachelor's degree from Waynesburg College in 1947.
The Zimmermans moved to North Dakota, where he helped to build Garrison Dam. He also worked as an engineer for the Ford Motor Company, helping to build the Willow Run Plant. In Puerto Rico, he worked as a field engineer in constructing Roosevelt Roads Base, and back in Pittsburgh he built floating dry docks for Des Moines Steel.
A spirit of adventure brought Zimmerman to New Mexico, where he earned his J.D. in 1950 from the UNM School of Law. He practiced law in Carrizozo from 1950-1953, Ruidoso from 1953-1956 and Alamogordo from 1956-1963 and 1967-1972. His major areas of practice were personal injury, water and mining, real estate and insurance.
In 1963, he joined the bench in the 3rd Judicial District, serving until 1966. He also served as a judge in the 12th Judicial District from 1973-1984. Often he was cited for closing more cases per year (2,000+) than any other district judge in the state. In the 1990s, he was a mediator and arbitrator.
Zimmerman was an honorary member of Rotary for 25 years, served as district governor for Sertoma in 1958 and was a lifelong Democrat. He spent more than 20 years singing with local barbershop groups and was a founding member of the Sounds of Enchantment. He ran for 30 years and was frequently seen jogging around the park on Washington Avenue in Alamogordo. His participation in the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness events earned him many awards, to include the O mile champion in the 1984 New Mexico Senior Olympics. Judge Zimmerman was an avid golfer at Desert Lakes Golf Course in Alamogordo and enjoyed many an early morning round of golf with close friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the UNM School of Law. Contact Hannah Farrington at 505.277.1038 or