John David Zimmermann
July 17, 1959 – May 27, 2021
Preceded in death by father, William; mother, Genevive; sister, Kathleen. Survived by loving wife, Emily (Melingagio); brothers, Michael and Andrew; sisters, Judith, Dede, Amy, and Mary.
MEMORIAL SERVICE: Saturday, July 10th at 2pm at the West Center Chapel.
To view a live broad cast of the Memorial Service, please go to www.heafey heafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on our home page.
With profound sadness we announce the sudden passing of John David Zimmermann. John was born July 17th, 1959, in Omaha, Nebraska, but his home was always Kansas City, Missouri, having spent most of his life there (and always trying to convince his loved ones to join him). John was preceded in death by sister, Kathy; mother, Genevieve; father, William. He is survived by unsinkable wife, Emily; stepmother, Diane; brothers, Mike and Andy; sisters: Judy, Dede, Amy, and Mary; nieces: Maddie, Brittany, and Caleigh; nephews: David, Daniel, Anthony, and Alfio; grandnephews, Brendan and William; grandnieces, Luzcia and Devona.
John is also survived by anyone he ever inspired to pick up a guitar. He’s survived by songs he sent you years ago that still have a place in your playlists. John is survived by a love of blues, barbeque, stages, dives, baseball stadiums, classic cars, and cool sh*t everywhere. He’s survived by every rescue dog now smiling at a loving face. John’s survived by the confidence of anyone rolling down the street on a Segway. He’s survived by the turbulent, beautiful waters of untamed lakes and the pristine fields of manicured green golf courses.
John was a lot of things: a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband, a friend, a businessman, a collector, a musician, a grumbling philanthropist, a life-long student, an emotionally charged, intelligent, hilarious person. He loved his family. He loved his work. John loved his music. He loved the spunk and frankness of children – and they loved those qualities in him.
John had one love in life above all others – his wife, Emily. His music, his work, his tenacity, his drive – these were all fueled by and for her, and by their oath, said time and time again: “We don’t quit”. From the moment they met in downtown Omaha to the moment they shared their last text message the morning of his untimely death, they were in love. Their road was not paved in gold. It was bumpy, sometimes there were detours. But they were and remain an example of compromise, compassion, vulnerability, and unconditional adoration.
John spent his final moments in his natural habitat – with people he loved and liked in a place where he felt at peace, on a day he was at his very best, surrounded by the things, ideas, and passions that fueled him. He made music while his grandniece danced in his hallway. John passed along clothes to his grandnephew and taught him to drive a boat in the rain. He had an important and healing conversation with his sister and niece – he no doubt felt seen, known, and validated. Those feelings weren’t always easy for John. But we know he must have felt them in his last few days.
On Thursday, May 27, 2021, John left this world under tragic and unpredictable circumstances. A freak accident on an ATV robbed us of the continued presence of this poet. This pied piper. This true VIP. He spent a lot of time in the past year reflecting on the legacy he hoped to build. John, like so many of us in this past year of uncertainty, wasn’t sure he had yet done enough. And he, like so many of us now, felt he was at square one and had to rebuild. Today, we begin to rebuild in his absence — all the while knowing his is an absence that can never fully be filled or healed.
What John David Zimmermann didn’t understand is that his whole life, inch by inch, string by string, chord by chord, he’d been building a legacy that would surpass his wildest imagination. Not a slab of marble or an impressive number in a bank account somewhere — but the home he built with his wife in a city that benefited from them being there. John’s legacy is in the deep down, never-fading love he holds for his siblings, and in his desire—which no doubt extends beyond his death—for each of them to reach their fullest potential. John’s legacy is in the style, taste, particularity, and playfulness of his nieces and nephews. It’s in the beat that lives on in his grandniece’s memory.
When you think of John, think of blue suede shoes, pearl inlays, strongly worded letters, and the static buzz of live microphones. Think of his infectious laughter, clear tenor, sharp intellect, and exceptional memory. When you think of John, don’t picture him behind a desk with a tie – even though he lived quite comfortably and confidently there. Think of him in the place he was searching for all his life. Think of John in his heaven. A heaven found in the passion he left behind — a heaven we will all be responsible for tending here on Earth. John’s heaven is in the personal choices we each can make that lead us further along in our own pursuit of happiness. It’s in his music — and, most of all, John’s heaven is in the music we must each continue to make.