J. Michael “Mike” Zimmers
- October 11, 2022
J. Michael “Mike” Zimmers
J. Michael “Mike” Zimmers, 72, passed away in his sleep at home, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Severa Zimmers (originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and daughter, Layne A. Zimmers, both of Springfield, Ill.
Mike was born on Oct. 15, 1949, in Chicago, Ill., the son of William F. Zimmers of Vienna, IL, and Dorothy L. (Meeks) Zimmers, originally of Rosiclare, Ill. He moved back to his hometown, Vienna, Ill., where he attended Vienna High School (Class of 1967). Mike and Nancy were married on Aug. 3, 1974, at St. Wenceslaus Church in Cedar Rapids.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, Eric S. Zimmers.
Other survivors include cousins, David A. Allbritten of Belknap, Ill., Trina Kozer of Clearwater, Fla., and Michael Accomondo and Lisa (Accomondo) Keller of Longwood, Fla.; extended family, including Nancy’s sisters and their spouses – Sidney and Larry Lutz and Sara and Duane Tack, both of Swisher, Iowa, and Stacy and the late Dave Martin of Cedar Rapids; and nieces, nephews, and their children. Another family member is Lori Smith, Layne’s partner.
Mike earned a master’s at University of Illinois- Springfield (1991) and a bachelor’s at MacMurray College (1971), where he was MVP and basketball captain his senior year. In 2014, he was named to MacMurray’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
He had 37 years of experience in public school education as a teacher, coach, principal and administrator, 34 years in Springfield. Mike began teaching in Park Ridge, Ill., and then moved to Springfield Public Schools, as a BD middle school teacher and coach for girls’ and boys’ sports. Mike began his administrative career as an assistant principal and athletics director at two middle schools and then became principal at Jefferson Middle School. Later Mike was recruited to work as a managing principal. He retired in 2011.
He ran for Springfield School Board in 2013, completing 9.5 years including various terms as Board President or Vice President. In April 2022, Mike was presented with the Bob Goldman Friend of Education award by the Springfield Education Association. Mike loved visiting schools, listening to administrators, going into classrooms, talking with teachers, interacting with students (being called a giant by one kindergartner), helping with parent requests, serving as head timer for track meets, and many other activities. He loved it all.
A lifelong Cubs fan, Mike enjoyed games at Wrigley Field and Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., and got his “just once in my lifetime” wish when they won the World Series in 2016. Mike also volunteered for United Way, Rotary, MacMurray College Alumni Board, Race Unity Council, and Central Illinois Food Bank. He enjoyed working out at (and supporting) the Springfield Y, gardening, keeping his bird feeders filled, and walking the family’s Westie- his best buddy, Duffy.
A longtime supporter of the Springfield Public Schools Foundation (SPSF), Mike was in the process of establishing a new fund to support local Springfield School teachers wishing to attend meetings or conferences, called the “Mike Zimmers Teacher Professional Development Fund,” or the “Mike Z Teacher Fund” for short. His family will continue his work on the fund, which is to be supported with a major personal gift at the time of his death.
Visitation and Funeral Ceremony: Family will receive friends from 2 to 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, at Springfield Southeast High School, 2350 E. Ash St., Springfield. Funeral will follow at 5 p.m., with Celebrant Judy Woerner officiating and accompanied by various speakers.
A private family ceremony for burial will be held at a later date, at St. John’s Cemetery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be mailed to Springfield Schools Foundation, Attn: Julie Hammers, 1900 W. Monroe St, Springfield, IL 62704, with a notation that the gift is for his fund. To make a PayPal donation to the fund, go to the District’s SPSF website and scroll down to the Memorial Donations area of the page- https://www.sps186.org/page/springfield-public-schools-foundation.
The family is being served by Butler Funeral Home – Springfield, 900 S. Sixth St., Springfield, Ill.
Please visit www.butlerfuneralhomes.com to offer your condolences and where an extended obituary is available to read.