Retired teacher and community volunteer, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, Margaret “Margie” Zimmerman died peacefully Oct. 9, 2022, in Crawfordsville. Margie was born in Leon, Iowa in 1938 to Arch and Anna, the first of four children. She grew up in Monticello, Iowa, attended Iowa State University, and graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in secondary education. She is survived by her husband, John, whom she met in high school and married in 1959, three children, Kathy (Peter), Chris (Laura), and Mike (Tracy), and seven grandchildren (Anna, Mark, Jill, Henry, Ben, Julia, Adin).
Margie was open-minded, knowledgeable, and insatiably curious, and will be remembered for her many contributions to the Crawfordsville community. She was a creative, committed teacher. Her unofficial teaching career began when her kindergarten teacher left the room, whereupon Margie gathered her classmates and read them a story, an occurrence that led to a quick mid-year promotion to first grade.
Her official career began teaching high school math and science in Kansas. She moved to Indiana, took a break to be at home with her children, and then returned to teaching through the First Christian Church nursery school program for children in need. After recertifying to elementary education, she taught at Nicholson Elementary School, joining a team of fellow teachers to launch the full-time gifted and talented program in the Crawfordsville School District. This program continues today. She delighted in her students’ achievements and nurtured their creativity and curiosity through projects like annual team-based entries to media fair competitions, the release of Monarch butterflies raised from caterpillars, the Star Lab planetarium, and the much-loved plastic-bag ice cream making experiment. Over five summers, she shared her knowledge as mentor in the University of Wisconsin Institute of Chemical Education training program for elementary school teachers.
She received the DeHaan Award for Excellence in Education Teaching Award and the Outstanding Teacher for the Gifted Award from the Indiana Association for the Gifted. From the proceeds of these awards, she created closets full of materials for hands-on science projects, and launched her post-retirement career as the “science lady.” Throughout the school year, every kindergartener to 5th grader in Crawfordsville experienced the joy of science learning and discovery through multiple visits from Mrs. Zimmerman armed with pulleys, magnets, rocks, beakers, and other exploration tools. Her legacy as an educator will endure for years to come through the colleagues, student teachers, aides, and thousands of students she inspired in her five-decade plus teaching career.
Throughout her life, Margie was a committed volunteer leader in ways small and large. She could always be counted on to step in unassumingly when there was a gap to be filled and an important need to be served. Her decades of service as a meal deliverer for Meals on Wheels spanned her time as a teacher, when she would take students with her during the lunch hour to experience the pleasure of service, to recent years, when she continued to make regular deliveries through a route maintained by church volunteers.
She was a founding member of the local Housing Authority, president of the Crawfordsville School Board, and an active participant in the League of Women Voters, Camp Fire, and the Women’s Legacy Fund. She and John joined Christ Lutheran Church when they moved to Crawfordsville in 1964, and she served the church as organist and choir member. She taught Sunday school, and in characteristic fashion, stepped in again last fall to fill a need for an extra teacher. She was one of the first women to join the church council and was the church’s long-serving financial secretary. She helped guide a church-based quilting project that drew dozens of participants from inside and outside the church. Next week, the team will deliver 250 quilts to people in need through Lutheran World Relief. Her needle threading skills were legendary.
Margie and John loved traveling to new places, a passion she inherited from her adventurous parents. Tent camping in the summer was the norm until recent years when Road Scholar trips and river cruises entered the rotation. She traveled the country with her children and grandchildren, visiting too many state and national parks to count. People still express awe about the annual tent camping trips across the United States she organized decades ago for her Camp Fire group, many of whom traveled outside Indiana for the first time thanks to her enthusiasm, superb organizational skills, and steadfast confidence in hitting the road with a few moms outnumbered by a big group of fun-loving girls.
Her siblings, children, and grandchildren share a love of puzzles, word games, and the “take-no-prisoners” approach to game playing she learned at an early age in Iowa. Her game-playing continued to her last days thanks to online gaming meet-ups with her children and grandchildren, daily Wordle puzzle completion, and Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy viewing with John. The entire family shared her love for piles of holiday presents under the tree and freshly baked cinnamon bread.
Visitation will be 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Christ Lutheran Church, 300 W. South Blvd., Crawfordsville. The service will follow at 11 a.m. at the church. The service will be transmitted live on the congregation’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/greencrosschurch/).
You are welcome to consider a donation in Margie’s memory to two organizations that she devoted many decades to serving: Meals on Wheels and Christ Lutheran Church, both in Crawfordsville.