John David Zimmermann

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 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.



  • Brian Turner Posted June 17, 2021 6:58 pm

    I was crushed to hear this news. Emily, I am so so sorry for your loss and can never apologize enough about not getting back in touch sooner.
    You’re in my thoughts –
    Peace & much Love-

  • Nancy Porter Posted June 18, 2021 6:40 am

    So sorry for this tragic loss. All of you, my Omaha cousins, and of course Diane, are in my thoughts

    • Mary Zimmermann Gagliolo Posted June 21, 2021 12:15 am

      Thank you dear Nancy. You have been such great support to us through these tragic times. Lots of love, Mary

    • Judy Radcliff Posted July 2, 2021 1:21 pm

      Thank you, dear cousin. Our hearts are breaking, and your love helps lift us up.

  • Rusty Smith Posted June 18, 2021 6:53 am

    I will miss you my friend. I feel for everyone’ whose life you touched, as you left a profound mark on us all. May you Rest In Peace and laugh at us as we continue our journey through this short thing called life….

  • Maria & Paul James Posted June 18, 2021 7:45 am

    We are deeply sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute.

    • Mary Zimmermann Gagliolo Posted June 21, 2021 12:18 am

      Thank you Maria and Paul, Your card, condolences and prayers mean so much! Love Mary

  • Tasha Clark-Weis Posted June 18, 2021 9:27 am

    I still can’t believe that he is gone. My uncle John always made me smile and he gave wonderful hugs. He would always sing to me and make me feel better when I was sad or down. I send my condolences love hugs n so much more.

    • Mary Zimmermann Gagliolo Posted June 21, 2021 12:20 am

      Thank you Tasha, he loved you very much. He was a wonderful uncle to all ♥️

    • Judy Zimmermann Radcliff Posted July 17, 2021 10:35 pm

      Tasha, thank you so much…John truly was the best uncle I have ever known, and he loved you so.

  • Cindi Vogt Posted June 18, 2021 8:14 pm

    Emily and Family – This news was so unbelievable when I heard. John was a longtime classmate through our junior and senior high schools; and it was such a delight to see him at our last reunion, so happy and his dad accompanied him – what a wonderful man he was too. Two magical people now share a home together again in heaven. This message of John is so touching and appreciated – to remember the importance of reflection on life and living in the moment. Wishing you all comfort during this time.

    • Judy Zimmermann Radcliff Posted July 17, 2021 10:23 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Cindi. John was just sharing with us how much that reunion and our father being there meant to him. He truly was a wonderful man.

  • Steven Barchus Posted June 21, 2021 1:44 pm

    So sad to hear. He was one of the good ones. Only saw him occationally when he was back in Omaha. Too many times it was for a funeral. Peace be with you my friend. Will toast you and the life you showed us is possible. Cheers.

    • Judy Zimmermann Radcliff Posted July 2, 2021 1:23 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. My brother was a remarkable man, indeed.

  • Maria ancona sauvageau Posted June 25, 2021 9:07 am

    Hugs to you all and prayer in this time of great loss.
    Beautiful tribute!!
    Maria and Jeff Sauvageau

    • Judy Zimmermann Radcliff Posted July 17, 2021 10:27 pm

      Maria, thank you so much for your kind words. It is indeed a great loss.

  • Marty Saviano Posted July 8, 2021 12:44 pm

    You will be missed, my friend. It was great to reconnect these last two years after knowing one other for 25+ years. God speed.

    • Judy Zimmermann Radcliff Posted July 17, 2021 10:28 pm

      Marty, your friendship meant so much to John. Thank you for your kindness.

  • Lara Zawaideh Posted July 9, 2021 12:14 am

    Dear Mary, Judy and Dede,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. Reading the beautiful words brings tears to my eyes. So touching to see how loved he was by all of you. Big hugs. May his beautiful soul rest in peace and may God give you the strength through this tough time.

    • Judy Zimmermann Radcliff Posted July 17, 2021 10:32 pm

      Oh, Lara, thank you so much. He was truly and deeply loved = I hope he knew how much. Your kindness means so very much to all of us.

  • Sandra elliott Posted July 9, 2021 8:57 pm

    So sorry fpr your loss of a great man

    • Judy Zimmermann Radcliff Posted July 17, 2021 10:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Sandra.

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