Dorothea "Tootie" Zimmerman, 83

Dorothea "Tootie" Zimmerman, 83

Dorothea “Tootie” Zimmerman, 83

SIERRA VISTA — On January 2, 2020, Dorothea “Tootie” Zimmerman left this world, leaving it a less exciting and colorful place to be.

She was born in Louisville, Nebraska, on a hot August night in 1937. She lived for 83 magnificent years. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, but after graduating from Kirkwood High School in 1955 decided to get on a train and travel to Tucson, Arizona, to attend the University of Arizona. She drove the train herself and fought off several train robbery attempts on the way. She graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and later moved to Tempe and got a Master of Art Education at ASU in 1973. Even though she went to both University of Arizona and Arizona State University, she always supported the Wild Cats against those horrible Frank Kush ASU football mutants.

Tootie loved Arizona and lived most of her life in Tempe, and although she did not found the city, she made it a much better place to live. As a long-time art teacher at various Phoenix schools, including Manzanita Elementary, Cholla Elementary, Royal Palms Junior High, and Valley Lutheran High, she taught generations of valley children how to draw and paint. She undoubtedly influenced every painting, mural, or spray-painted graffiti produced in Phoenix in the past 40 years. She was an avid camper and hiker. She walked every square inch of Arizona and named most of the places in it. She rode a donkey down into the Grand Canyon one time, but it went lame, so she carried it back up. She went rafting down the Colorado River using only an inner tube and a beer koozie as floatation devices. She was an avid Diamondbacks fan and personally inspired Randy Johnson to greatness during the 2001 World Series. She was proud of her German heritage and may have been responsible for knocking the wall down in Berlin. She ran into Chuck Norris once and knocked him down too. She was a great talker and would strike up a conversation with anyone about anything at any time. She could talk the ears off a brass donkey and often did. If you ever see an earless brass donkey, you know that Tootie had been there. She loved cats and maintained a cat sanctuary on her property way before the Tiger King made it cool. She was a tough, fascinating, eccentric, generous, and wonderful woman who enriched many lives with her unique life approach.

A small memorial service will be held for her at Christ Church Lutheran in Phoenix on January 23, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. Due to COVID, it will be by invitation only, but it will be broadcast on Zoom and Facebook for those who can’t attend. Those who knew Tootie are certain to have a memorable story and are encouraged to post their remembrances on her FaceBook page at You may also donate to the Fearless Kitty Rescue at instead of buying flowers. She liked flowers, but she liked kitties more.

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