Suzanne Zimmerman, 1921-2013: Psychologist in local schools aided the arts


Suzanne Zimmerman, 91, who followed her career as a Toledo-area educator with long-term volunteer commitments, died Feb. 6 in Sunset House.

She broke a hip in November and most recently was under the care of Ashanti Hospice, said her nephew, Donald Sillence.

Mrs. Zimmerman of West Toledo retired in 1982 from the Sylvania City Schools, where she was a psychologist, as she had been in the Toledo school system.

For the first part of her career, she taught in the Washington Local and Toledo schools. She was a 1943 graduate of the University of Toledo. She had a master’s of education degree from UT, after which she was certified as a school psychologist.

Her older sister, the late Dorothy Perry Sillence, became a teacher as well. Both women were encouraged by their mother to pursue education and a career.

Mrs. Zimmerman filled her retirement with volunteer work and travel.

“She didn’t see any reason to stay at home and just sit around when you could do things,” her nephew said.

The Salvation Army got much of her attention, and she encouraged others to join in.

“I know that your community will certainly welcome your help,” Mrs. Zimmerman, then 77, said at the army’s 1998 holiday campaign kickoff breakfast. “I worked nine days, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s been 16 years now.”

Mrs. Zimmerman volunteered at American Association of University Women book sales and at the Toledo Opera. She was a member of First Congregational Church, and she and her sister traveled the country to attend church conferences. She gave her time to the Toledo Museum of Art and the Wolcott Guild and Maumee Valley Historical Society. At social events, longtime friend William H. Patterson often accompanied her.

“She did a lot of things with a lot of people she had known for a long, long time,” her nephew said.

She took two trips to Russia, and gave a talk illustrated by slides afterward to the American Legion Toledo Post. She went to China and the Middle East. She traveled North America to hear performances of Richard Wagner’s operas and visited the annual Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Germany.

“She had a great curiosity about the world, and one way you satisfy that curiosity is by going to places if you can,” her nephew said.

She was born June 29, 1921, to Josephine and Albert Perry, the youngest of three children. She was a 1939 graduate of Scott High School.

Her husband, Ralph Zimmerman, died Aug. 6, 1982. There are no immediate survivors.

A reception to celebrate her life — inspired by the 80th, 85th, and 90th birthday parties she threw — is 1-3 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Woodlands, Indian Road.

Arrangements are by Ansberg-West Funeral Home.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.