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Published: Monday, 2/7/2011

MADELINE ZIMMERMAN, 1943-2011: Bank teller a Hungarian festival queen

Madeline Zimmerman, 67, a longtime bank teller who had a sharp eye for interior decorating and was just as skilled doing wiring and home repairs as she was choosing color schemes, died Saturday at Spring Meadows Senior Community Center in Holland.

Her cause of death was not determined, although Mrs. Zimmerman had suffered a variety of ailments, including Parkinson's, said her husband, Kurt Zimmerman.

Mrs. Zimmerman, born Madeline Ann Crowley in Toledo on March 10, 1943, worked on a farm when she was 8 and 9 years old. She was a 1961 graduate of Rogers High School.

Her career was focused on being a customer service representative for various banks in the Toledo area, although she worked at the Bay Shore Supper Club in Oregon for about 10 years, said her son, Alex Vizi.

She retired in 1996 from the National Bank of Oak Harbor, where she worked 25 years, Mr. Zimmerman said.

She became active in Toledo's Hungarian community earlier in her life as a result of her first marriage to Charles A. Vizi, a Hungarian immigrant. He survives.

She put her skills to use as a baker and cook for the Hungarian Club of Toledo, for which she once served as its festival queen, Mr. Zimmerman said.

For the International Festival, she had baked between 50 and 60 dozen Hungarian pastries, her son Alex said.

She was a skilled seamstress and sewed costumes used by the Hungarian dances and for community celebrations. She also made clothing for her two sons and for her extended family, Mr. Zimmerman said.

She took an interest in antiques and furniture refinishing, which the couple parlayed into a paying hobby of buying homes and refurbishing them before putting them back on the market.

"She was quite an interior decorator," her husband said.

Mrs. Zimmerman was talented in plumbing, wiring, carpet laying, and other tasks needed to prepare a house for resale. Every house they fixed up bore her touch on landscaping as well, although most of that work was done by Mr. Zimmerman, under her eye and direction, he said.

"You name it, she could do it. She was extremely good at that," he said. "I would tell her, 'You tell me what you want me to do and I'll do the labor.'"

The couple, who married in 1992, were avid dancers, primarily to country-western music.

Mrs. Zimmerman underwent back surgery shortly after the couple married, leading to complications that left her using a wheelchair the rest of her life.

That didn't slow her down, Mr. Zimmerman said. She still could do a lot of things, such as sewing and some refinishing work.

Added her son, Alex: "She was a pistol. She just wouldn't let anything get her down."

Mr. Zimmerman said she frequently would cook for families of people who were in the hospital. "She was a caring person. She was always reaching out to people."

She is survived by her husband, Kurt Zimmerman; sons, Charles S. Vizi and Alex J. Vizi; four grandchildren; sisters, Caroline Carpenter, Helen Crum, Marilyn Guy, Elizabeth Goffe, and Jean Kirchner, and a brother, Frank Crowley.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Foth-Dorfmeyer Mortuary, where the funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Memorials are suggested to Zion United Methodist Church Memorial Fund or to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: jsielicki@theblade.com, or 419-724-6050.



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