Dr. Nathan Zimmerman
Louisville - Dr. Nathan Zimmerman, 93, affectionately known as "Doc" to his many patients, friends, and family, passed peacefully at home in the early morning hours of October 1st of complications arising from COVID-19.
The son of two Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Sol and Pauline Zimmerman, Doc was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 25, 1927. The family and their three children (Nathan and his siblings Robert and Eleanor) soon relocated to nearby New Brunswick, New Jersey, a town known for its rich history in healthcare, where Doc spent his formative and teenage years. He served with distinction in the US Navy during World War II in the Philippines before attending University of Louisville Medical School, graduating in 1952 at the youthful age of 25. Soon after, Doc began his practice, Valley Medical Associates, in Louisville's south end, practicing family medicine in the area for the next 57 years. During his career, Doc became a beloved staple of the community and treated generations of patients whom eventually came to know him not simply as an expert in medicine, but as a friend and as family. Doc cherished these relationships all of his days and regularly spoke fondly of his patients and their families in his retirement.
Doc married the first love of his life, Bobette (née Abroms) in Louisville, KY on December 27, 1949, together raising a family of four sons: Michael, Lee, Howard, and Eddie. Following the loss of Bobette to illness in 1989, lighting struck again for Doc in 1990 upon his introduction to the second love of his life, Ann Benjamin Levine (or as he fondly called her "Annie B"). They met upon the insistence of multiple friends, believing that Ann and Doc would prove to be a perfect match. They were. After one date, Doc had declared himself struck by the "thunderbolt" and they were subsequently married on April 13, 1991. Together with Ann's four children: Vycki, David, Benji, and Larry, the family ballooned in size to twenty grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, keeping Doc simultaneously smiling and on his toes.
In his life's work, Doc was the classic "family doctor"; known and revered for his gentle, yet frank, bedside manner, his commitment to his patients and colleagues, his reliability, and his diligence. Over his 57 years in practice, he grew with his patients through their every stage of life; delivering babies, performing procedures today reserved for specialists, becoming a part of families through sickness and health, graduations, weddings, and funerals, and growing old with many of his original patients and their families. Through his embrace of innovation, he grew Valley Medical Associates to the largest family practice in Kentucky, becoming the first medical facility in Louisville to house an early IBM computer, expanding to include on-site laboratory testing for rapid diagnosis, and being among the first to have hospitals purpose-built to handle the needs of patients. Providing innovative care and cutting edge technology was not enough for Doc; his personal commitment to each and every patient under his care was also demonstrated by personally making hospital rounds every morning, whether it be Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years. His children fondly remember the routine of hearing late night phone calls from their beds, with Doc racing out of the door in the middle of the night to deliver a baby or provide emergency care. The next morning at the breakfast table he would still be in his scrubs, spending a bit of time with his family before heading back to work; a testament to the love he had for his family, his profession, and his patients.
Doc was an avid supporter of the University of Louisville both in their academic and athletic missions. In college, he was a catcher for UofL's baseball team and played for the NY Yankees farm team before committing his efforts to his medical education. His love of UofL basketball was absolute, becoming close friends with the coaching staff and players—many of whom he eventually came to know as patients. Doc was a mainstay on the Standard Country Club Golf Course, and as many can attest, was adept at making up for any lack of skill with his imagination and when necessary, a sharp pencil.
Despite his short stature, Doc was a giant of personality and congeniality; his trademark mix of quick wit, lived wisdom, wry sarcasm, sharp intellect, and authentic, non-judgmental appreciation for others filled any room with his singular brand of charm and charisma, welcoming all into his circle of friends and family.
Doc is preceded in death by his first love, Bobette Abroms Zimmerman, his youngest son Edward A. Zimmerman (Dorrie), and granddaughter Minna Eva Goldenberg. He is survived by his wife and second love Ann Benjamin Zimmerman; his sons, Dr. Michael Zimmerman (Evie Oman), Lee Zimmerman (Sherrill), and Howard Zimmerman (Pat); his daughter-in-law, Dorrie Zimmerman (Justin Horn); Ann's children, Vycki Goldenberg-Minstein (Anthony Minstein), David Levine (Danatta), Benji Levine (Deborah Cohen), and Larry Levine (Heather Hunt); his twenty grandchildren, Michelle Armour (Stuart), Jason, Joel (Allison), Rye (Allison), Cory, Wren, and Nathan Zimmerman, Blake (Amy), Austin (Kara), Simon, Hazel, Anna, Harris, Bella, and Greta Levine, Marc (Hailey), and Jon Goldenberg, Solange and Harris Minstein; four great-grandchildren, Lily Armour, Edward G. Zimmerman, and Tenley and Zachary Levine; his wonderful caregivers whose dedication, care, and friendship to Doc over the years proved both heroic and light-bringing; countless friends; numerous colleagues; and a community consisting of generations of patients whom relied upon and entrusted Doc with medical care for them and their families.
Few people are lucky enough to live a life as full and as rich as Doc's. He leaves behind a monumental legacy as a healer, friend, husband, father, grandfather, patriarch, and community pillar. He will be dearly missed, but remembered in much warmth, happiness, and humor by the great many of those whose lives he touched.
A celebration of life will be announced at a future time once we are able to safely gather.
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Published by Courier-Journal from Oct. 3 to Oct. 4, 2020.