Phebe Robbins Zimmerman, died peacefully in her Hiram, OH home on May 15, 2014, surrounded by family and cherished caregivers. She was born March 22, 1919 in Cleveland to Esther Holland Robbins and John Clapp Robbins. She was a graduate of Cleveland Heights High School and Hollins College in Roanoke, VA. On July 10, 1943 she married John Priddy Zimmerman in the garden of her parents' home in Cleveland Heights.
When her husband returned from WWII they were unable to find suitable housing in Cleveland so the young couple moved "temporarily" to her family's summer home in Hiram. And they stayed. Hiram was a wonderful place for Phebe and John to raise their family. The Hiram community enriched their lives, and they enriched the life of the community.
Phebe was a stay-at-home mom of the greatest generation. She was an avid reader, gardener, bird-watcher, family historian and archivist. She inspired and guided the education of her sons and extended family. She served on the Hiram School Board, presiding over the process of consolidation with Crestwood Schools in 1964. She was a Cub Scout den mother, active in the Hiram Fellowship, Garden Club, and History Club. For her family and for countless friends Phebe was the fixed point of love, integrity and loyalty in our lives.
Phebe was preceded in death by her parents and husband. She is survived by four loving sons and their wives: Robert O. Zimmerman (Betsy) in Cincinnati; Edward Robbins Zimmerman (Barb) in Uniontown, OH; John P. Zimmerman, Jr. (Pat) in Midland, MI; and Dean M. Zimmerman (Marci) in Cleveland Heights. She is also survived by her brother John C. Robbins, Jr. (Sylvia Hordosch) in New York City. She is proud of her five grandchildren: Rob Zimmerman (Shannon) in Louisville, KY; Tom Zimmerman in Cincinnati; Greg Zimmerman (Courtney) in Silver Lake, OH; Beth Derstine (Henry) in Columbus; and Andrew Zimmerman in Nashville, TN. There are six great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. It was a special blessing for the family to welcome another Zimmerman boy, Greg and Courtney's son Finn Robbins Zimmerman, just two days before his great-grandmother's death.
It was Phebe's own great-grandmother who established the family's Hiram legacy. Phebe Boynton Clapp (1833-1900) was raised on a pioneer Western Reserve farm adjacent to her cousin James A. Garfield. She and Garfield were both early students at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, which became Hiram College. Garfield returned to Hiram as college president, then moved on to higher offices. Phebe Boynton Clapp returned to Hiram as Lady Principal, equivalent to Dean of Women. And she stayed. In 1883 she purchased the Garfield family home.
It was this house that brought Phebe and John Zimmerman to Hiram in 1946. Preservation and improvement of the house was a lifelong labor of love. In 2013 Phebe sold the house to Hiram College, retaining a life tenancy. By terms of the sale the house is to be called the Garfield Robbins Zimmerman House. It is planned that the house will be used in support of the Garfield Institute of Public Leadership. In announcing the sale Phebe stated "I am happy that the house will be preserved and will be used for a purpose that honors its history."
A memorial service for Phebe Zimmerman will be held 1 PM Sunday, June 15 at the Garfield Meeting house, NE corner of Wakefield and Garfield Roads in Hiram.
Memorial contributions are suggested to Hiram College for preservation of the Garfield Robbins Zimmerman House, or to Hiram Christian Church.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Mallory-DeHaven-Carlson Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 8382 Center St., Garrettsville, Ohio 44231.