ORANGEBURG OUT OF THE PAST

Geraldyne P. Zimmerman, 1911-2011: Mrs. Gerry Zimmerman has probably been one of the most prolific civic leaders Orangeburg has known. Her untiring efforts guiding the lives of children and young women were unparalleled. Born in 1911 in Orangeburg to James Arthur Pierce and Hazel Tatnall Pierce, she has lived her entire life in the Orangeburg community. Her elementary education was obtained at Claflin College and high school at what is now South Carolina State University. Collegiately she graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1932 and received a masters degree in mathematics from South Carolina State University. She did further study at Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, San Jose State College, and Carlton College. As a math teacher at South Carolina State University for thirty one years, Mrs. Zimmerman wrote several papers and handbooks regarding academics. Additionally she wrote and produced three Educational Television (ETV) tapes for the South Carolina Department of Education in 1961. “Mrs. Z,” as she has been affectionately called, was a dynamo in community affairs. As a leader in the Girl Scouts for over fifty years, she has served as a troop leader, board member, association president, troop consultant, and service unit chairman. For her untiring efforts she was awarded their highest honor, the Thanks-Badge. As a neighborhood organizer with the Peasley Street Playground, the community center building built there was named the “Zimmerman Community Center” for her outstanding leadership and guidance there through the years. She has been a leader in the Sunlight Club to provide wholesome activities as well as instill character for the youth of Orangeburg. In 1963 she organized the Helen Sheffield Girls’ Club, a federated community service club for girls, and helped guide their success for many years. Through her efforts and coordination, the historic old African-American cemetery in Orangeburg was cleaned up from a dilapidated state and revitalized into a place of dignity. She was instrumental in raising the funds to do so as well as securing the City of Orangeburg to maintain this historic cemetery, known as the Orangeburg Cemetery. Mrs. Zimmerman also was the co-organizer of Links, Inc as a local civic club. She has been active with the Orangeburg City Beautification Advisory Council, the Orangeburg County Association for Retarded Citizens, the Ethyl Corporation Community Advisory Panel, and has served as the Red Cross Board Chairman, and was the past president of the Orangeburg County Literacy Association. She also was a volunteer for both the United Way and the Salvation Army, and served on the Cooperative Church Ministries of Orangeburg board that provides clothing and food for the local indigent population. She has been a very active member at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. For her outstanding efforts in making Orangeburg a better place in which to live, Mrs. Zimmerman was selected as Orangeburg’s Citizen of the Year in 1994. In 2000 she was awarded South Carolina’s highest award for community service, the Order of the Palmetto. South Carolina State University (SCSU) awarded her their Humanitarian and Education Council Award in 2003 and later that same year she was selected for the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award from SCSU, and in 1999 the City of Orangeburg bestowed her with its highest award for community service, the Edisto Award. Gerry Zimmerman married Dudley M. Zimmerman, and they had two children, D. Malone Zimmerman, Jr., and Rose Hayzel Z. Jones. Mrs. Zimmerman is considered to be one of the finest humanitarians Orangeburg has known.

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