Mary Zimmerman

Mary Berneice "Bea" Zimmerman (Witmer)

Monday, October 7th, 1918 - Saturday, January 2nd, 2021
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Residence in Fort Wayne, IN.

She was born October 7, 1918, in Grabill, IN, to Bertha and Noah Witmer. For many years her parents owned and operated the general store in Grabill, and she, with her four sisters, helped serve customers at the store. She graduated from Leo (IN) High School in 1936, and then attended Manchester College, earning a teaching certificate, which led her to move to Flanagan, IL, to teach at Salem Children’s Home, an orphanage run by the Evangelical Mennonite Church. There she met Loren Zimmerman, whom she married on July 13, 1941. They lived in nearby Gridley, IL, where they raised three children and shared nearly 61 years of marriage. She was a faithful member of Salem Evangelical Mennonite Church.

She is survived by her children, Stanley (Emily) Zimmerman, Coral Springs, FL; Merna (Jim) Eisenbraun, Warsaw, IN; and Joan (Bob) Pauley, Ft Wayne, IN. She dearly loved her 6 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great-grandchild, and many nieces and nephews.

Bea welcomed relatives, neighbors, and strangers into her home. All were fed. She especially loved the piano, playing and teaching into her 90s. She introduced more than one generation of Gridley residents to piano-playing. She is remembered for her kind patience with her students.

After her husband, Loren, died, she lived at home in Gridley until she was 98. At that point she needed more care and moved to Fort Wayne, nearer her two daughters. The staff at Kingston Residence, where she spent her final years, speak warmly of her grateful spirit, kind demeanor, and strong Christian faith.

Just before her 100th birthday, she said: “I want to be a blessing to those I meet and point them in the right direction to find peace with God.” This statement characterized her entire life.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, and four sisters.

She will be interred in the Waldo Township Cemetery, Gridley, IL. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Memorials may be sent to:

Heartland Hospice, 1315 Directors Row, Ste 210,
Ft. Wayne, IN 46808-1284
Salem4youth Ranch, 15161 N 400 E Rd, Flanagan, IL, 61740
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