ESTHER JEANETTE HOFSTAR ZIMMERMAN
March 28, 1926-February 19, 2018
“A Woman of Christian Beauty for over ‘91’ years”
“I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is ETERNAL.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18
It is with heavy hearts and great sorrow that the family of Esther Jeanette (Hofstar) Zimmerman says goodbye to their beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Esther was born in Lumpkin County, Georgia on March 28, 1926. She passed away at her residence in Antioch, California on February 19th, 2018, with many of her family by her bedside. She was 91 years old; just short of her ‘92nd’ birthday.
Esther is survived by her husband of ’69 years’, J. Gene Zimmerman, her four beloved children; three sons, David (Edna) Zimmerman of Antioch, CA, Edward (Karen) Zimmerman of Colville, WA, Daniel (Susan) Zimmerman of Brentwood, CA, and daughter, Ellen (Don) Amador of Oakley, CA.
Esther is survived by (14) grandchildren, David (Andrea) Zimmerman, Shannon Zimmerman, Remo Zimmerman, Tiffany (Jeremy) Moreau, Bill (Breanna) Prather, Heather (Skeeter) Sims, Halley (John) Davidson, Jeremy Zimmerman, Ashley Zimmerman (fiancé John Frolich), Zachary Zimmerman, Steve Curry, Heather Flynn (Bob) LoRusso, Jonathan Amador and Thomas Amador.
Esther is survived by (18) Great-grandchildren, Jordan, Alec, Cameron, Tucker, Nicolas, and Emma Zimmerman, Dwight De Lon, Taylor and Tannor Sims, Alyssa and Lauren Davidson, Emma and Owen Moreau, Chase Prather, Caitlynn and Olivia Curry, Sofia and Evynn LoRusso.
Esther is also survived by sisters, Joyce (Hofstar) Gray Pihl, Betty Lou (Hofstar) Miller, and Lois (Hofstar) Funk and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Esther was preceded in death by her beloved father and mother, William and Vesta Hofstar, brother, Warren Hofstar, and step daughter, Rosemary.
Esther’s Mother, Vesta and Father, William travelled by horse and buggy from Michigan to Alamogordo, New Mexico (where they were married), and then sometime later moved to the “promised land;” Los Angeles, CA. During the depression, the Hofstars decided to move from the city to live in the Georgia countryside, because Esther’s parents wanted to raise their children out of the cities. During their five-year stay in Georgia, the Hofstars lived and worked in the nursing and building trades at a private Sanitarium. Living in a log cabin, in Lumpkin County, Georgia, Esther and her sister, Betty Lou joined the Hofstar family. Cow’s milk didn’t seem to agree with Esther as a baby, so she was fed goat’s milk. In 1929, work was now abundant at the Loma Linda Sanitarium, in California, so the Hofstar family decided to return to California.
Esther went through school from the 1st to 12th grade at Loma Linda Academy, graduating in 1945 as the valedictorian of the class. During high school, Esther worked as a hospital bell hop and telephone operator. The following school year, Esther entered pre-nursing at La Sierra College. The following summer Esther, and four friends decided to transfer to Southwestern Junior College in Keene, Texas and four of the five eventually married young men they met at Keene that year; Esther being one of them! She found the love of her life.
During Esther’s school year at Keene’s Southwest Junior College she met her future husband, Joseph Eugene Zimmerman. The enjoyed each other’s company as they went on weekly Bible studies, roller skating, date nights, and the Spring Banquet. The school year quickly came to a close. Esther graduated from pre-nursing, and Gene got an AA degree in Theology.
Traveling back to California from Texas following the school year, in Esther’s parent’s station wagon, everyone in the car went to sleep; including the driver! Falling asleep, the driver turned into the bridge’s cement buttress, flipping the car onto its side and skidding down the bridge. Everyone in the car believed an angel turned the wheel of the car just in time to keep it from careening over a 50 foot cliff into the river below. Esther then spent a week in the hospital, with Gene visiting her daily. This divine incident was the glue that bonded their lasting relationship.
Gene and Esther spent their third year of college as an engaged couple at La Sierra College, in Southern California. They decided on a late August wedding, just before their senior year, because they needed to work to pay for their education and the church wedding they were planning; Esther as a baby sitter/housekeeper, and Gene working in Esther’s father’s construction business. As Esther laid the pattern onto the Satin material to make her wedding dress, that summer, she said to herself – “there’s no turning back now!, and she thought of that moment many times later reminding herself, this was her freewill choice and commitment to a man she felt was part of God’s plan for her life. It was a life-long commitment. Esther became the bride of Gene Zimmerman in an evening ceremony, August 29, 1948, in Loma Linda Hill Church.
Shortly after starting their senior year in college, plans had to change. Needing additional funding, and learning their little family was expanding, Esther dropped out of school to work. Their first son, David Eugene was born three days after Gene’s graduation with a B.A. in Theology. As door’s closed for Gene to enter the ministry, God opened another door. Gene began working in construction. But, their lives seem to be “on hold.” After a friend suggested that Gene go back to school and take medicine; he just couldn’t quit thinking about it. He prayed about it, and was convinced this was what God wanted him to do. Upon hearing Gene’s idea to take medicine, Esther couldn’t believe that he was considering such a crazy idea! They had just finished building a duplex and their second son, Edward Allen was just a baby, and she had just found out that she was pregnant again! How could they ever make it? But, they soon found out, that if it’s God’s plan, there is a way!
They sold their new car and duplex and moved into a very small home and their third son, Daniel Lee was born. Gene went back to college and took his premed classes, while working in his father-in-law’s cabinet shop. Even though, Esther’s plans had changed and she wasn’t able to complete her college degree in nursing and become a missionary nurse, she loved her three little boys; even if, she had a mountain of diapers to wash and fold!
After completing Gene’s premed classes, he was told he could not apply for medical school that year because one of his credits would not be accepted from Keene. Gene and Esther thought that this may be an answer to their prayers; giving them time to complete a house they were building, pay all their expenses, and redo the class that was not accepted. July 1955, after taking Esther to the hospital to deliver their fourth child, a little girl, Ellen Marie, Gene received a phone call from the dean of Loma Linda Medical School, asking him to come in for an interview. He had been accepted into medical school! How could they ever make this work? They prayed, sold their car and house, and felt confident of the Lord’s leading in their lives.
Ten years after graduating from Theology, Gene graduated from Loma Linda Medical School and the Zimmerman family moved to Stockton, California where Gene was to do his one year internship at the San Joaquin County Hospital. Following the internship, the family relocated to Ukiah, where they planned to build a new home, the children could attend Christian schools, and there would be a steady monthly income!
Again, the Lord had other plans for Gene and Esther. They received a letter from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, inviting them to missionaries in Ethiopia for five years! They were needed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by the first of August. After much planning, preparation, and packing the Zimmerman family sailed from Montreal, Canada on the East Coast. Landing in Europe, the family of six rented a VW bug, strapped luggage on top and toured Europe, for $5.00 a day!
Since there were only three doctors for the 102-bed Empress Zauditu Memorial Hospital, Gene was soon extremely busy. The doctor’s provided all the in-patient care, but also held two clinics a day. There were many challenges living in the mission field, drinking water had to be boiled and filtered, challenges shopping for the family in the local markets, cooking and baking on a wood stove at 7,726 ft. elevation, and not being able to understand or speak the local language; just to name a few! At the time Esther started working at the hospital’s business office, making less that half-wages, the hospital was operating in the red. Under Esther’s leadership, dedication and hard work, the hospital finances turned around and began to make a profit and operated in the black. Esther also worked as the school teacher for the missionary children for one year, as all the other teachers had moved.
One of the fringe benefits for working at the hospital and Gene being one of the doctor’s that took care of the Ethiopian Airlines personnel, they could fly “space available” anywhere Ethiopian and affiliated airlines flew. They visited Turkey, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, and even returned home to the states for a summer visit. At first, living in Addis for five years would seem like an eternity, but after leaving, they all missed Ethiopia, and it’s still considered to be some of the happiest years of their lives.
Returning to the states in 1966, the Zimmerman family relocated to Oakdale, California for one year, before moving to Antioch, one very hot summer day, in July. Gene joined two Seventh-day Adventist doctors, who expressed their desire to accept short-term mission appointments, which fit into Gene and Esther ideals and plans. The 52 subsequent years has resulted in many changes in the Zimmerman family, as well as extensive expansion in the City of Antioch. Gene and Esther purchased a tract home not far from the hospital, added a great-room, swimming pool, and with “Gene’s green thumb,” beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers were added!
One day while flying a private plane over Antioch, Gene looked down and noticed property being developed for housing that had direct views of Mt. Diablo. As a result, two lots at the top of the hill were purchased. Gene was in 7th heaven, and Esther said, “Oh no, here we go again!” In September of 1970, they moved into their “almost finished home.” No cabinets, carpets, yard, or swimming pool. Three of their children were attending high school at a Rio Lindo Adventist Academy out of Healdsburg, California, and their older son David, was married, and living in Portland, Oregon. So, Esther had to quickly adjust from all four of her kids being at home, to no kids at home and being “home alone!” She was busy though, as she put her office skills to work in the bookkeeping department at the Medical Center on “A” Street. Every spare moment, Gene was busy in his garage or better described as his “cabinet shop” completing all the cabinets for their new home. Their home wasn’t complete until it became a place of beauty with the touch of Gene’s “green thumb.” The results were a beautiful outdoor garden setting; a place of green solitude and beauty!
In 1973, Gene and Esther purchased a prime piece of commercial real estate on Lone Tree Way, where the area was just being developed for markets, stores, banks, other commercial facilities. Over the next ten years, Gene and Esther built six professional buildings on that property. Gene and Esther opened their own medical practice in the first medical building that was completed. Esther worked as the office manager, while Gene saw patients and helped bring health and healing to the citizens of Contra Costa County. They both worked extremely hard, Gene not only seeing patients, but also with the design, construction, and landscaping of the office complex.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Mark 10:14-15. Esther tenderly touched the lives of countless number of children with her loving children’s ministry. Her children’s ministry began here in Antioch at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, located on Worrell Road. She was instrumental in the organization and leadership of the “year round” Vacation Bible School. Upward to fifty children were picked-up every Sabbath (Saturday), and transported to the church were Esther would share Bible stories, participate in crafts, and sing fun inspirational Christian songs with the children. Esther was like a parent or grandparent to many of these children. Even some thirty years later, Esther still has a close relationship with many of these little children. One little girl in particular comes to mind, her name is Heather. This little girl is grown now, and has two small children of her own. While Esther has been so gravely ill the last month, Heather came and tenderly helped care for Esther, just as Esther so lovingly cared for Heather so many years ago. Children throughout the City of Antioch came for many years to her weekly VBS and their lives were forever changed and blessed! No one on this earth will ever know what a difference this kind and loving Christian women, named Esther, made to the children of Antioch, only eternity will tell the final story!
For many years, Esther also invited a teen-group of young people into her home for weekly Christian fellowship, Bible Studies, refreshments, and weather permitting, swimming in her pool! When many young people were roaming the city streets, and getting into trouble, Esther loving opened the doors to her home to offer the kids of her church and community something better, enduring, and everlasting. She introduced them to her loving Friend, Jesus and gave these kids an opportunity to know Him, too! She helped them develop important life skills, develop good moral characters, and how to make wise and intelligent decisions. Were these young people’s lives changed because Esther showed them loved? Were these young people’s lives changed because Esther took the time? Were these young people’s lives changed because Esther cared? You decide…
Outgrowing their church and school facilities at the Worrell Road Seventh-day Adventist Church, Esther saw a “For Sale” sign as she drove past Deer Valley Road, and she quickly became excited! It wasn’t long and a vision was born! She acquired more information about the property and shared the information with Gene, who also quickly caught Esther’s vision. They shared their vision with their church family. This property would be a perfect place for their new school and church! Esther believed in a God of miracles. She believed in a God that doesn’t leave events to chance. She believed that God has a plan…He is the Master Builder! She believed in a God that uses individuals who are willing to follow His plans; using the young & old, male & female, small & great, and rich and poor. A year later, the church bought the property at a foreclosure sale for half of the original price! Working with the City of Antioch, they approved the plans for a school, church, and an 8-plex housing unit, and the city agreed to extend Deer Valley Road to Lone Tree Way, giving access to the property. Esther believed in an unfailing God. A God, which never leaves His people, nor forsakes them; He uses willing people to work His miracles! God gave Esther a vision and Esther was willing to be used to carry her vision of a new church facility to her church family. Because of one 5’4” tender-hearted women’s vision, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and School now sits atop the hill of 2200 County Hills Drive, shining out to every individual in the East County. Again…does one life make a difference?
After 42 years, Esther retired as Business Manager, of Gene’s medical practice, Antioch Medical Park. Even though, she was retired and didn’t go into the office daily, she remained actively involved in her family’s enterprises until the time of her passing.
For many, many years, Esther was also very involved with Women’s Ministry. She loved her church sisters and believed in helping each one of them develop spiritually, emotionally, and mentally into the loving Christian women that the Lord desires of each of us. Esther will be deeply missed by her Christian sisters!
Esther had the inspiration to minister. But, as her health declined, it was hard for her be as active as she once was, so the Lord opened the “bulletin” ministry to her. Up to several weeks before her passing, Esther weekly sent bulletins to each missing church family. She wanted each missing member to know that they were missed by their church family, and to inform them of the activities and ministries going on in the church. The Lord used Esther, a “91” year old women to touch the lives of many, many families every week. Does one life make a difference; yes, it does!
Together, Gene and Esther were actively involved in foreign missions throughout their lives and supported missions around the world. They personally worked in Addis Abba, Ethiopia for 5-years, and short term mission trips to Thailand, Cambodia, and Bolivia.
Ninety-one years sounds like a long time, and it is! The Lord let Esther live “91” years, because He found a willing and faithful servant in Esther. But, now Esther has passed and is peacefully resting and waiting Jesus’s soon return. Esther felt that the Lord had richly blessed, her and Gene, and felt honored to serve Her Lord, her King and Savior, alongside Gene, for 69 wonderful years (August 29, 2018, they would have celebrated their 70th anniversary). There had been challenges, disappointments, fears, and worries, along the way, but they could truly say – the Lord has been good to them and their family. Esther was pleased with each one of her children as she has loved and watched them grow, mature, and have families of their own. She welcomed each daughter and son-in–law, and learned to love them as one of her own children and a welcome part of her family. She thanked and praised the Lord from Whom all blessings flow.
If anyone would like to make a charitable contribution in Memory of Esther, please send donations to: Hilltop Christian School, 2200 Country Hills Drive, Antioch, CA 94509. Cards and letters may be sent to: The J. G. Zimmerman Family, 3737 Lone Tree Drive, Antioch, CA 94509.