News » Dr. Richard Zimmerman 1924 - 2009
loading gif


June 12, 2009


Ron Lopp


Dr. Richard Zimmerman received CMA’s award which exemplifies the practice and ethics of a rural physician. The Plessner Award is the highest award bestowed by the association during its annual meeting in Sacramento on October 4, 2008.

Dr. Richard E. Zimmerman passed away on June 12, 2009. He was 84. Dr. Zimmerman leaves behind loving family and friends, as well as a medical career as a rural doctor. A legacy which lasted for nearly 60 years.


Richard Eugene Zimmerman, M.D.

May 20, 1924 - June 12, 2009

Having lived a life that was rich beyond measure, Dr. Richard E. Zimmerman died peacefully in the company of his family on June 12, 2009. He was born on the South Dakota prairie, and migrated with his family to Santa Rosa, CA; in 1930, during the depths of the Great Depression. Growing up in Santa Rosa, he learned to raise chickens, worked hard to augment the family income, and dreamed of becoming a doctor.

He graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1941 and attended Santa Rosa Junior College. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy V-12 program at the beginning of WWII, which sent him to the University of the Pacific and the University of Southern California, where he met his future wife, Catherine Ruby Yost, and was awarded his M.D. degree. He and Catherine came to Fairfield in 1950, to run the Solano County Hospital with his friend Dr. Leroy Howlett.

He entered into private practice at Fairfield Clinic with Drs. Ben Smith and Peter Gauder in 1951, creating the seed of what would become the Solano Regional Medical Group, now an affiliate of the Sutter Regional Medical Foundation. Recalled to active duty with the U.S. Navy in 1952, he served as the chief medical officer of a destroyer squadron based at Pearl Harbor and was deployed to the Western Pacific during the Korean War and off the coast of Indochina during the battle for Dien Bien Phu. After the Korean War, he returned to his practice at Fairfield Clinic.

During his long medical career in Fairfield, he served as Chief of Staff of Fairfield Hospital, helped finance and build Intercommunity Hospital (now known as North Bay Medical Center), and pursued his lifetime advocacy of compassionate medical care. Still making house calls and visiting patients in 2008, he was the recipient of the Frederick K.M. Plessner Award honoring the California physician who best exemplifies the practice and ethics of a rural practitioner, by the California Medical Association. He was also recognized for his medical contributions to the State of California in 1995 by State Senate Resolution No. 2066.

He received the Physician Leadership Award from the NorthBay Healthcare Foundation in 2002, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Solano County Medical Society. In 2008, the Solano Regional medical Group re-named its annual Physician of Distinction Award in honor of Dr. Zimmerman. When not practicing medicine, Dr. Zimmerman enjoyed the arts, good food, fine wine, and pleasant conversations with friends and family. He was a contributing member of the Christianson Society for San Francisco Ballet, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Opera and the California Academy of Sciences, and an active member of the Community United Methodist Church in Fairfield. An avid traveler, he loved to visit New York, Paris and London, as well as more exotic destinations that allowed him to ride elephants the jungles of Thailand and scuba dive on the ghost fleet lying at the bottom of Truk Lagoon.

He is survived by Catherine, his loving and devoted wife of 63 years, his son Richard, daughter Christine and grandchildren Emily and Peter, and many, many dear friends and colleagues.

Services will be held at 10:00 AM Wednesday June 24, 2009 at the Community United Methodist Church in Fairfield to celebrate the man, doctor, husband, father and grandfather who served us all, with genuine dedication, compassion and unconditional love. There will be a private internment at Rockville Cemetery.

The family requests any donations in Dr. Zimmerman’s memory be made to Mission Solano, P.O. Box 8, Fairfield, 94533, The Salvation Army Fairfield Corps, P.O. Box 3157, Fairfield 94533, or the Community United Methodist Church, 1875 Fairfield Ave., Fairfield 94533. Arrangements are under the direction of Bryan-Braker Funeral Home Fairfield, CA. 707-425-4697