December 30, 1931 – September 3, 2011
Ruth’s parents attended a Free Methodist Church and she was active in church activities. She attended Greenville College, Illinois. The influence of her mother, Ruth Moreland Zimmerman, and her aunt, Elizabeth Moreland, both Free Methodist missionaries, heightened Ruth’s willingness to serve the Lord wherever He could use her. During her college Spanish class, Ruth promised God if He would help her maintain a high grade in the class, in the future she would use the language in His service.
Following college graduation in 1953, Ruth taught in an elementary school near her home town of Fairview, Pennsylvania. After three years, she began to feel a restlessness about keeping her promise to God, but hardly knew where to begin. She prayed for God to have someone send her a letter informing her of an opening. The letter arrived the following week. It was from her Aunt Elizabeth who told her of an opening at the Free Methodist school in Los Angeles, California.
In 1957, Ruth arrived in the Latino, inner-city community of Los Angeles to teach in the East Los Angeles Light and Life Christian School. As she began this venture, Ruth wrote, “My prayer is that many children and young people may see Christ through my life and that I may serve Him more perfectly in the days to come. I feel He is fulfilling His promise to direct my paths (Proverbs 3:6).”
Ruth’s love for the Lord and the people soon won the hearts of the children she taught and the confidence of the families she served. Colleagues David and Nellie Fenwick write, “She was a very gifted teacher, but also led children into life-long relationships with Jesus.”
Victor Rodriguez, now a pastor in the Pacific Northwest Conference, writes, “I have fond memories of Miss Zimmerman. She encouraged my mom in several ways. As a teacher she started me on the road of enjoying learning. She made reading fun and challenging, and I learned that the world was a big place that could be explored in many ways through books. Her faith and prayers were blessings.”
While directing the local children’s church ministry, Ruth guided 10-year-old Maria Jimenez to accept Jesus as her Savior. Though still a young girl, Maria led her entire family to a relationship with the Savior and into the Free Methodist Church, after her father, a taxi cab driver, was murdered. Maria became a Doctor of Oncology and for years has ministered to terminally ill children, teens and their families.
Diana Ramirez, now Diana Caldwell, was an eighth grader when her mother decided to take her children to Mexico to live, but through the influence of the school’s principal, Diana was able to live with Miss Zimmerman so that she could graduate from Light and Life. Through the Lord’s leading Diana remained with Ruth to attend a Christian high school and later graduated from Azusa Pacific University. After teaching in a public school for several years, the Lord led her to become the Christian Released Time Director of 14 public schools in the Azusa District in California. She has served in this capacity for the past 18 years.
The Fenwicks believe Ruth’s ministry continues on today because of the lives she touched during her 10 years of faithful service to her Lord in California.
Beginning in 1967, doors opened for Ruth to spend the next two years at Florida’s Tampa Friendship School. She then returned to Pennsylvania, retiring in 1993.
Ruth was a member of the Erie Free Methodist Church, served as a Women’s Ministries International president and local missions coordinator. A Heritage Village resident since 2002, Ruth continued to enjoy children and to be active in local church ministries at the Gerry FM Church, New York.