Lucille Viola Zimmermann

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It was with a lump in the throat and genuine appreciation that many Eureka Springs and Berryville residents remebered Lucille Viola Zimmermann, 93.

Lucille died at 6:30 a.m. on the Ides of March in her Berryville home with her daughter, Daryl Jones, and son, David Zimmermann, at her bedside.

"Lucille was so honest all the time," said a friend of 30 years. "She had no hidden agenda. She was a teacher."

"I saw the face of Jesus in her face many times," said another.

"She was one of us," one man said. "She loved her friends as though they were her family, and she was brutally honest with her children. She once looked at David and said, 'You place people in a box and if they don't fit right, you throw them away. Stop that.'"

Lucille was one of the original Parks commissioners in Eureka Springs, and saw to it that Magnetic Spring had a covered picnic area where poor people, in particular, would have a place to picnic out of the rain. "That park belongs to her," a friend said.

"When we're born, everyone loves us," said another. "Lucille maintained a wide range of people who absolutely adored and loved and respected her throughout her life. It was because of her strength. It was because of her brain. It was because of her smile. She was genuine. She was the queen of reality."

"I loved playing bridge with her," said another. "Even at ninety-two she still played with a full deck. She could be strident, yet she loved the surprise of exuding calm."

"She was so flexible! She tried assisted living in Springdale some years ago and that didn't take, she said she felt estranged from her people, so she moved to an apartment and then bought a house in Berryville. Her script was never really written because it kept expanding."

When money from an Outreach program that was to be spent on youth came available, Lucille walked to Basin Spring Park to ask the kids with peacock hair and pierced noses what they wanted. From those conversations, Lane House was born.

"She had an effect on me," said a hospice nurse. "She was so easy. And hilarious. She spent five days with my family during the ice storm two years ago. She would do yoga in the hallway every morning, and participate in all meal preparations. She loved hearing our hens brag when they laid an egg, and she would recount the event with her evening glass of blackberry wine."

Lucille agreed to hospice care when she realized she wouldn't live long, and she thrived. Hospice made it possible for her to stay in her home, which empowered her even more. She made tea for the hospice workers.

Lucille approached her death with an awareness of something wonderful and curious. "Aren't we just a little excited by this?" she would ask.

Last Thursday Lucille fell in her home and broke her pelvis. She died Tuesday morning from the fall -- not from the congestive heart failure that had plagued her, not from pneumonia, but from a simple fall.

Lucille was born in Alhambra, Ill., and lived in Missouri, Texas and Arkansas.

One of the last remarks overheard Tuesday, but heard more than once, was, "I meant to stop by and see her. I wish I had."

Lucille was cremated. A Burial Office and Eucharist will be held at St. James Episcopal Church on Sunday at 8 and 10 a.m., and a graveside service at Eureka Springs Cemetery will be Tuesday, March 22 at 10 a.m.Participants who bring bulbs for planting are appreciated.