Merle G. Zimmerman, 90, of Melbourne, FL passed away on April 10, 2014.
He was born in Hornell, NY on January 28, 1924. He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl D. and Mary E. Drew Zimmerman; wife Shirley M. Walker Zimmerman; and brother Robert (Ann) Zimmerman.
Merle is survived by his wife of 39 years, Norma C. Coates Cockrell Zimmerman; and daughters Carol (Steve) Shearer and Linda (Tim) Ferris.
When Merle married Norma, he gained a new extended family, two sons, Mike (Mely) Cockrell; and Tim Cockrell; and daughter, Jill (Mike) Wadkins. He is also survived by brothers Stanley (Helen) Zimmerman and Donald (Cleo) Zimmerman, as well as eight nieces, one nephew, nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Merle was a proud service member of the United States Navy during World II and served in the Pacific Theatre where he achieved the rank of Aviation Electronics Technician's Mate First Class and was awarded three medals, the American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal (with three stars representing service in the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa) and Navy Good Conduct Medal.
Merle moved his young family from Buffalo, NY to Florida in the 1950s to take a job working in the new and growing space industry, where he became Manager of Video Communications for RCA, working on unmanned and manned space programs at Cape Kennedy. As a Space Pioneer, he received awards for his support of the Mercury-Redstone mission, which flew the nation's first man into space and the Apollo XI mission, the first moon landing flight. In the 1970s, Merle returned to college, completing his Bachelor Degree in Business. In this phase of his career, he and Norma owned and operated the Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Cocoa Beach, FL, which they built together into a very successful business.
Merle and Norma eventually quit working, but neither of them retired.
Merle was an avid golfer who enjoyed discussing his three hole-in-ones. He was a talented musician, who played piano, organ, and trombone. He enjoyed volunteering and playing trombone in the Community Band of Brevard until last year. Merle and Norma greatly enjoyed traveling to their cabin in the Pocono Mountains, PA where they spent many enjoyable summers watching wildlife, hiking and boating on the lake together and golfing and socializing with the dear friends they made there. Merle was a member of the Suntree United Methodist Church in Melbourne, FL, where he and Norma were long-time members of the Empty Nest Sunday-School Class.
The family would like to thank Merle's caregivers at Wuesthoff Progressive Care for the genuine kindness and remarkable care they showed to him during his stays there.
Merle was loved very much by his family and friends and will be greatly missed, but will live forever in our hearts.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Community Band of Brevard, 256 Humkey Street, N.E., Palm Bay, FL 32907-1215.
A memorial service conducted by Pastor Hoyt Byrum will be held at Suntree United Methodist Church, 7400 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL 32940 at 2:00 pm, Wednesday, April 16, 2014.
Arrangements entrusted to Ammen Family Cremation and Funeral Care, Rockledge, 632-1350. Share memories and sign the family guestbook at www.afcfcare.com.
Ammen Family Cremation & Funeral Care
1286 S Us 1 Rockledge, FL 32955
Published in FLORIDA TODAY from Apr. 15 to Apr. 17, 2014