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Wilmington Community Remembers Roberta Zimmer

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted May 17, 2017
Roberta Zimmer, a longtime member of the Wilmington community, died on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Andrews Mortuary)
The Wilmington business community is remembering Roberta G. Zimmer, who died Tuesday at the age of 92.

A longtime member of the Wilmington community, Zimmer is one of the pioneers of the long-running Wilmington-based jewelry retailer Reeds Jewelers Inc. 

Zimmer and her husband, William "Bill" Zimmer, who is now deceased, purchased a small jewelry store on Front Street in downtown Wilmington in 1946 and changed the name to Reeds Jewelers. Today, Reeds Jewelers is still headquartered in Wilmington and has expanded with several retail locations. According to the retailer’s website, Reeds currently has stores in 13 states.

Herbert Zimmer, son of Bill and Roberta Zimmer, said his mother still played a role in the company into her 90s.

“She was still working in the store and still engaging with the customers to make sure that they were well taken care of. She wanted to be involved in the business throughout her years,” said Herbert Zimmer, co-founder of Wilmington-based Zimmer Development Company, senior partner with Zimmer and Zimmer law firm and member of Reeds Jewelers' board of directors.

Roberta Zimmer was also actively involved in several nonprofit organizations and charities in the community, including the Cape Fear Garden Club and Cameron Art Museum.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Zimmer Cancer Center was also named after Bill and Roberta Zimmer after the Zimmer family made a planned charitable gift of $2.1 million to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation.

“We are forever grateful for the incredibly generous support that Roberta and Bill showed New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the NHRMC Foundation and the greater Wilmington community. They were extraordinary individuals, and their philanthropic contributions helped shape the health of our community,” said Schorr Davis, NHRMC Foundation's vice president of development and executive director. “We send our deepest condolences to the Zimmer family and will continue to honor the legacy Roberta and her husband pioneered at NHRMC, and that the entire Zimmer family continues to graciously support.”
 
A 14.5 million expansion and renovation of the center is currently underway with the project scheduled for completion this fall. The Zimmer Cancer Center opened in 2000.

Roberta Zimmer was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on Nov. 11, 1924. She was the first of two daughters born to Louis Goldfarb and Annie Kantor Goldfar. She graduated from public school in Birmingham and attended Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama.

She met her husband while he was stationed briefly in the Birmingham during World War II. They moved to Wilmington in January 1946. Together they had four children: Herbert Zimmer, Alan Zimmer, Jeffrey Zimmer and Arlene Zimmer Schrieber. They also had 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Wednesday at 4 p.m. at B'Nai Israel Congregation, of which Roberta Zimmer was a longtime member. Interment will immediately follow at B'Nai Israel Hebrew Cemetery. Visitation will follow thereafter at the family home at 1901 Hawthorne Road in Wilmington, according to Roberta Zimmer's obituary.

In lieu of flowers, the obituary stated, donations may be made to the Zimmer Cancer Center, B'Nai Israel Synagogue or a charity of choice.

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