It is with deep sadness that we announce the sudden and unexpected passing of Gerhardt Zimmermann, a remarkable man whose indomitable spirit and unwavering determination inspired all who knew him. Gerhart departed this world on June 10, 2023, at the age of 77, after a flare of lung disease that started one week prior to his death. Unfortunately, it was rapidly progressive and unresponsive to treatment. He is leaving behind a legacy of resilience, musical excellence, and unwavering love for his family.

Born on June 22, 1945, in Van Wert, Ohio, Gerhardt loved model trains and animals, and initially dreamed of being a second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. His life was marked by a defining moment when at age 7, he contracted polio, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. While many would have been sidelined by such an illness, his tenacity for life and determination allowed him to defy the limitations imposed upon him by the illness. He found a love of music, learning to play the trumpet, and finding a new dream to be in the marching band.

He graduated from Van Wert High School and headed to Bowling Green State University, with a plan to play in the band. However, after finding himself playing trumpet while sitting in an orchestra for the first time, he relayed “It was as if the heavens opened up” and from that moment on, a conductor was what he wanted to be. He moved forward with studying orchestral music at Bowling Green and The University of Iowa. His passion for orchestral music was thus ignited, never to be extinguished.

Throughout his 50-year career as a symphony conductor, it was always about the music. Gerhardt had the uncanny ability to set extraordinary expectations and motivate orchestras to meet those expectations. It is through this collaboration between musicians and conductor that they brought music to life, crafting emotional landscapes and igniting the souls of audiences around the world. While he had the pleasure of conducting across the globe, from Scotland to Costa Rica, from Carnegie Hall to Hawaii, he had lengthy tenures at the St. Louis Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Breckenridge Music Festival, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Canton Symphony Orchestra.

The Zimmermann Symphony Center in Canton, Ohio is a symbol of his dedication to music. He will forever be “the poet of the podium”. While Gerhardt’s professional achievements were impressive, his greatest source of joy came from his family. He is known for his dry sense of humor, quick wit, loud sneezes, and capacity to hum and whistle 24/7/365.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years Sharon, his daughter Anna (husband Chris), his son Peter (wife Ashley) and his six grandchildren, Trinity Rose, Emmeline Abigail, Lincoln Christopher, Elizabeth Marie, Heidi Grace, and Zoe Faith, and his puppy Troubadour. Sharon, Anna, and Peter would like to invite you to an open house at their family home in Raleigh, NC on Thursday, June 15, 2023, starting at 4 pm. Please come prepared with your favorite Gerhardt stories and pictures to celebrate his zest for life and his love of music.

Additionally, a tribute to Gerhardt and his contribution to the musical community will be held in Canton, Ohio in the fall, to coincide with the 2023 Canton Symphony Orchestra Season. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that donations be made to the Canton Symphony Orchestra. Gerhardt has moved on to his encore with the Symphony of the Stars.