Cover photo for Richard C. Zimmer's Obituary
Richard C. Zimmer Profile Photo
1935 Richard 2023

Richard C. Zimmer

May 4, 1935 — March 16, 2023

Richard Charles Zimmer, age 87, of Rockford, IL joined those he loved and passed before him the morning of March 16, 2023. Son to Charles Peter Zimmer and Mary Alice “Marion” (Northen). Predeceased by his parents, wife (Marleen), brothers (Tom, Bill, and Jack), son (Matt), sons-in-law (Daryl Babb and Bill Morrow), and daughter-in-law (Deb Newton-Zimmer).


He was the oldest of five boys: Tom of Chicago, IL, Bill (Bonnie) of Glenview, IL, Jack (Cathy) of Mt. Airy, NC, and Jim of Baileys Harbor, WI. He attended St. Margaret Mary Elementary School and St. George High School (Evanston, IL), and Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI) where he graduated in 1957 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. In elementary school, he delivered newspapers. In high school, Rich worked at a family-owned drug store and some summers as a laborer for a bricklayer. One summer he worked at American Can Company on the line feeding presses. At Christmas time he also worked at the Post Office. While growing up he enjoyed working on or taking apart anything mechanical (engines, motor scooters, etc.) which planted the seed for his working career. He raced his motor scooter with his friends during high school and went to the lakes to hang out.


In 1954 during their sophomore year at Marquette University, he met Marleen Anne Pytlik. They were set up by their roommates and forever friends so Rich would give Marleen a ride home on his motorcycle. Rich and Marleen enjoyed dancing at Homecomings, ROTC dances, and on date nights throughout college. They married in June of 1957 at St. Alexander Church, Villa Park, IL and were married over 60 years. Rich was in ROTC at Marquette and served in the Army for two years following graduation. He spent his first six months at Fort Belvoir, VA in an Engineering Maintenance Course. Rich then was transferred to Fort Leonard Wood, MO where he served as a Second Lieutenant and had his first home and child with Marleen. After 18 months, Rich was promoted to First Lieutenant working with 200 specialist trainees per week, marching them to various combat courses (ie. ropes, rigging, bridges, dynamite). Rich was also assigned to oversee the Construction Maintenance Operators Course and became the company commander.


After his discharge, Rich and Marleen moved to Rockford, IL for his first civilian job with Borg Warner Corporation - Mechanics Universal Joint Division as a Mechanical Engineer working on universal joints for farm machinery. After gaining knowledge, Rich changed to a new job at Essex Wire where he was involved in plant engineering and installing machinery. Three years later, he began working at Bartelt Engineering (Rexham Corporation) - Packaging Machinery Division for better pay designing and building packaging machines; his favorite type of work since his childhood. His most memorable projects were for frozen orange-juice, Fruit Roll-Ups, and 3M scotch tape. After ten years, Rich became a project manager on special machines and systems for the automotive industry (Ford and GM) at Rockford Automation until the company went out of business ten years later. He finished the last ten years of his career at Anderson Packaging. Rich’s forte was creating. He used to say give me a problem and I will create a machine that can do it. At Anderson Packaging, he designed ways for transporting, gathering, and collating between pharmaceutical packaging machines. He retired from Anderson Packaging in 2000 and later did some contract work for Anderson Packaging designing individual creamer packaging machinery after retirement.


One of Rich’s favorite quotes is, “An engineer will tell you exactly how it’s going to work; then, if it doesn’t work, he will tell you exactly why it didn’t work.”


Rich and Marleen had seven children, Pete (Kim) Zimmer of Venice, FL, Larry (Susan) Zimmer of Park Falls, WI, Mary Babb of Freeport, IL, Cathy Morrow of Roscoe, IL, Joe Zimmer of Lake Geneva, WI, Matt Zimmer of Byron, IL, and Sharon (Pete) Peterson of Knoxville, TN.


Rich had 17 grandchildren: Dan (Melissa) Zimmer, Chris Zimmer, Taryn (Dusan) Knezevic, Marcy Babb, Forrest Babb, Kary Flannery, Zach (Heidi) Morrow, Erika (Shane) Morrow, Chad Morrow, Rachel Zimmer, Lauren Zimmer, Eric Zimmer, Alexandra Peterson, Ian Peterson, Isabella Peterson, Emilia Peterson, and Anastasia Peterson, and 10 great-grandchildren: Arlo, Lidia, Harper, Jannick, Jase, Gracie, Yohan, Yoona, Cora, and Layla.


Rich was an active parishioner at Holy Family Catholic Parish for many years and usher until his move to Wesley Willows. He enjoyed golf and breakfast with his buddies. Rich made wooden puzzles, doll furniture, rocking-horses, baskets, crosses for church, and necklace and tie holders for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Other pastimes included working on the family’s cars, helping with everyone’s home projects, gardening, and playing bridge with Marleen, friends, and church groups.


Annual summer vacations were spent camping, hiking, site-seeing, boating, and skiing with his wife and children and later years with his grandchildren. Rich fished with the boys and grandchildren, coached little league baseball, and was a Den Leader and Scout Master. He helped the children with school projects, volunteered at their schools, and painted and installed playground equipment. He attended the Father-Daughter Dances and his children's and grandchildren's sporting events. Rich was creative when carving the pumpkins at Halloween, taught everyone how to grow a vegetable garden (tomatoes were his specialty), took the family to cut down the annual Christmas Tree, and drove the kids for the annual “look for Santa” on Christmas Eve, where inevitably they returned home to find that Santa delivered the presents while they were away.


In Rich’s retirement years, he and Marleen visited friends and family, and traveled to Europe (the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, France, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and England), Mexico, Hawaii, and went on Caribbean and Alaskan Cruises, and visited beaches and National Parks throughout the United States.


The visitation will be at Fitzgerald Funeral Home, 3910 Rockton Avenue, Rockford, IL 61103 from 4 pm to 7 pm Monday, March 27. Services are at Holy Family Catholic Church, 4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford, IL 61107 with funeral viewing at 9:30 am and Mass to follow at 10:30 am on Tuesday, March 28.


Please write any memories of Rich or quotes for family members at this site. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org or American Heart Association, Inc. at heart.org.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard C. Zimmer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

9:30 - 10:30 am (Eastern time)

Holy Family Catholic Church

4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford, IL 61107

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Funeral Mass

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

Holy Family Catholic Church

4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford, IL 61107

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Burial

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