The Rev. Dr. Robert “Bob” Zimmerli, 90, a retired Baltimore-Washington Conference pastor who served as a district superintendent, died Nov. 5, 2015. A Celebration of Life was held Nov. 12, at First UMC in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where he had lived since 1996.
He was born August 29, 1925, to Robert Zimmerli and Isabelle (Smith) Zimmerli in Washington D.C., and was educated in the D.C. public schools. His interests were in music and printing.
At age 17, he enlisted in the Navy and, from 1943-1946, was a sonar specialist on a minesweeper at sea in both the Atlantic and Pacific. After discharge, he continued his education in printing and music, He taught printing at McKinley High School in Washington and played percussion with two symphony orchestras and in jazz and swing combos. He also did stand-up comedy and had three radio shows in D.C.
“After seeing the horrors of war, I felt I was called to ministry,” he said, and continued his education in that direction. He received a Bachelor of Arts from American University, his Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology, and his Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary. He also did post-graduate studies at Gallaudet University.
He and Mary Jo Morris, “the love of my life,” he said, married in 1953 and had two children. When he became district superintendent, she entered seminary, eventually was ordained, and also became a district superintendent (Baltimore North District, 1990-1996). She died in 2014.
In 1954, after he finished seminary, Zimmerli served at Edwards Chapel in Annapolis for six years. He was appointed to Brooklyn Heights from 1960-1967, then to Mount Olive in Randallstown. In 1975, he was appointed to Calvary UMC in Frederick and, in 1980, became district superintendent of the Baltimore East District. Six years later, he began serving Westminster UMC until he retired in 1992.
He served on several district, conference and national boards and committees. He taught in Leadership Schools and Schools of Christian Mission throughout the United States.
After moving to retirement in Boothbay, Maine, in 1996, the Zimmerlis became active in the East Boothbay UMC. He was also active with the local American Legion Post, Masonic Lodge as a 32nd Degree Mason, and the Boothbay Region Band and Hollowell Band.
He was predeceased by his wife, the Rev. Mary Jo Zimmerli.
Survivors include his son, Wesley Zimmerli and his wife of Woodbine; and daughter Laurie Zimmerli and her partner of Arnold.
Condolences may be sent to Laurie Ann Zimmerli, 961 Deer Run, Arnold, MD 21012; or to Wesley Zimmerli, 7112 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, MD 21797-8916.
Memorial donations may be made in his name to East Boothbay UMC, P.O. Box 11, East Boothbay Harbor, ME 04544.