When math teacher Heidi Zimmer was ailing last spring, she began receiving cards and notes from students. Some praised her strength, others said she guided them through a difficult subject, and another student even offered to have her mother drive Zimmer to her many doctors appointments.
Such was the impact Zimmer, a lifelong teacher, had on her students, according to her family.
Zimmer died July 26, after battling breast cancer for more than two years. She was 39.
Heidi Suzanne Zimmer was born Sept. 18, 1973, in San Francisco, the older of Barbara and Richard Zimmer’s two daughters.
She graduated from El Molino High School in 1991 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Sonoma State University.
Like her father, she was a born teacher, said her mother, Barbara Zimmer of Santa Rosa.
“She was a natural teacher, but she was a hard teacher,” she said. “She just had a natural ability with kids.”
Zimmer taught math at Santa Rosa Middle School and Santa Rosa High. She also taught at Technology High School in Rohnert Park and most recently was in the classroom at Rincon Valley Middle School and, in 2012-13, at Montgomery High School.
At Rincon Valley, Zimmer established the Interact Club — a student version of Rotary. The club swelled to 50 members, Barbara Zimmer said.
When she moved to Montgomery, she got involved with the Vikings’ existing Interact Club.
Many club members sent the Zimmers notes after her health forced Heidi Zimmer to leave school in April.
“We were overwhelmed at the notes her students sent us,” she said. “I was amazed at the cards, for high school kids.”
Three years ago, Zimmer helped establish the Evening Rotary Club of Santa Rosa, becoming a founding member.
Zimmer and her 19-year-old son, Jay, hosted exchange students from Taiwan and Ukraine. The pair later took a trip to the Ukraine, where they were hosted by students they had housed, Barbara Zimmer said.