Ronald J. Zimmerman

May 1, 1965 ~ March 18, 2020 (age 54)


Ronald J. Zimmerman, 54, who lived at the DHS Human Development Center in Arkadelphia, AR passed from complications from an infection on March 18th, 2020. He was the 6th of 7 boys raised by Frank and Rose Mary (deceased) Zimmerman from Shannon Hills, AR. 

Ron had the mental capacity of someone approximately 5 years of age. His disabilities apparently happened at birth. His mother, early on, knew something was not quite right with Ron. She had a particularly long labor with him, and he was in the birth canal for a very long time. Medical professionals suspected the umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck and cut of his oxygen supply for a period of time. 

Ron first came to the Human Development Center (HDC) at the age of 7. One of the brothers recounted the day the whole family dropped him off: “I’ll never forget the day we first took Ron the HDC in Arkadelphia. He was 7 years old, and as we left it was the first time I ever saw my mother cry.” Sacrifice that it was, it was also the very best place for Ron and quite frankly for the rest of the family. Ron’s needs had far surpassed the attention he could be given at home. He was epileptic, could not talk, and had very poor balance; he was a fall risk and was restricted to a wheelchair the last few years of his life.

Growing up with Ron was as you might expect with a house full of seven boys all born within 13 years of each other. The brothers fought a lot and Ron was just another “one of the boys”. They all teased each other, as well as Ron, and continued to tease him throughout his life all in loving fun. 

Ron’s mother was instrumental in his care for his first 50 years, but when she passed in 2014 his brothers assumed that role. The pictures below were taken on his 50th birthday; his brothers and dad came to Arkadelphia to the HDC to celebrate. They did that annually after their mother’s death and had 2020’s visit already scheduled when Ron passed. 

His brothers and Dad have also all attended the last 5 annual review meetings at the HDC that Rose Mary faithfully attended until her death.The care and compassion the HDC showed to Ron was unprecedented; there is no other venue where he could have received the attention he needed and where he had lived such a fulfilled life. Ron was very happy there; it was apparent every time the family went to see him and especially apparent when they left.  

He was loved dearly by his biological family and the family who cared for him at the HDC. How can a person who has a limited vocabulary, the intellectual ability of a five-year-old, has been bound to a wheelchair for the last several years, who needs care around the clock affect so many people so positively? His family has seen him only a few days a year over the last few years, yet his impact on them was tremendous; his siblingsattribute their close relationship to Ron. Ron also had an impact on those at the HDC who provided his care for 47 years. Here are a few of their thoughts about Ron.

What I liked most about Ron was:

- His laugh. He always laughed when he was teasing someone or when someone else was in trouble. His laugh was loud, his eyes crinkled at the corner, and you noticed his dimples. The kind of laugh that made everyone around stop and wonder what he was laughing at and made you feel happy at that moment too. AND when he was mad, he’d shake his finger and say he was gonna tell his momma. He loved his momma. 


- He was such a fun person to be around. He made me smile every time I went into his home. Ron was defiantly a favorite of mine. I would take him to work most days and he would just smile. I am going to miss him so much!


- When he would light up at lunch time when he saw me because he knew I was going to help feed him.


- His humor!


- That he always wanted to be clean and have a dry shirt.


- Was his BIG personality and his sayings that he had!


-  Ron was the boss in the house. He knew what the other clients were not supposed to do and he would let them know they were doing something wrong! He would pick on staff too and argue with them about things. He loved to sleep in when possible, sit outside on the patio, and chew gum! Ron was definitely family out here and loved by all! I’ll say it again, he will surely be missed!!

 We will have a graveside service with only immediate family present. It will be at 2pm Friday March 19, 2020 at Calvary cemetery where Ron will rest once again beside his mother. In lieu of flowers we would ask that you consider donating to Ron's home of 47 years, The Human Development Center in Arkadelphia. They took extremely good care of Ron and of their other 113 residents. They are under constant stress to keep their doors open. Checks can be made out to: 


Volunteer Program 

PO Box 70
Arkadelphia, AR 71923
Attn: Deb Wilson

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