C. Robert Zimmerman Choral Conducting Scholarship
Following his retirement in 1983 Dr. C. Robert Zimmerman’s contributions to California Lutheran College were described in a letter from the college thanking donors to the scholarship in his name. “The impact of his professional expertise, his personal commitment and his unquestionable loyalty to the College will live on through his students for years to come.” Those words proved very true, as this story will show.
Bob Zimmerman began life in 1918 in the Philippines where his parents taught at the American School in Iloilo. When the family returned to the United States, they settled in Spokane, where they lived from 1927 to 1944. After graduating from Washington State College, Bob taught music in the Spokane schools and then moved to Portland to teach at Lincoln High School. While in Portland he founded Portland Symphonic Choir which he directed for 17 years. He studied under Robert Shaw at Juilliard and earned his doctorate at the University of Oregon. In 1961 he moved to Thousand Oaks to become a member of the founding faculty of California Lutheran College. “Dr. Z,” as he was affectionately known, was appointed chair of the music department. He served energetically in that position for 22 years during which he built a nationally recognized music program..
During CLC’s early years, Dr. Zimmerman’s reputation and vision drew students to the new campus by making music a flagship program. But his love for music also took Dr. Z into the community, where he served as choir director at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and helped to found the Conejo Choraliers (which evolved into Ventura Master Chorale) as well as the Conejo Symphony Orchestra.
Bob Zimmerman was also a loving family man. Married to his wife Janice for 60 years, the couple had four children—a daughter and three sons, one of whom preceded him in death. About seven years after his retirement, the Zimmermans moved back to Spokane where they became active in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Dr. Zimmerman passed away in September 2001. At the celebration of his life and ministry held in Samuelson Chapel, the CLU alumni choir and orchestra provided a moving performance of Gabriel Faure’s Requiem as their final tribute to their beloved teacher.
It was Dr. Z’s devoted fans, the CLC choir alumni, who initiated the campaign for the C. Robert Zimmerman Choral Conducting Scholarship in 1983. The fund reached endowment in January 1984. To qualify as a recipient, the student must be a music major enrolled in choral conducting, preferably the course in advanced conducting. The recipient may be either an undergraduate or graduate student.