Rural WG resident dies from crash injuries

Zimmer known to have provided positive impact on Tracy Kids World children

TRACY — A week after being involved in a two-vehicle crash, 54-year-old Lisa Zimmer has died from her injuries, leaving family, friends and co-workers to grieve her loss.

The rural Walnut Grove resident was said to have a tremendously-positive impact on those around her, including the children she built relationships with as an aide at Tracy Kids’ World.

“Lisa was a great employee and always had a smile on her face,” TKW Director Greg Carlson said. “The kids took a very good liking to her. It definitely was a shocker when we heard the news of the accident and even worse, the severity of it.”

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Zimmer lost control of the 2007 Chevrolet Impala as she approached the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and 120th Street on Sept. 6. The Impala was then struck by a 2015 Chrysler Town and Country minivan driven by 64-year-old Paulette Stefanick of Garvin as she was driving south on Highway 59. Stefanick received non life-threatening injuries in the crash.

“Anytime someone who leaves this earth unexpectedly, it’s never an easy thing to cope with,” Carlson said. “Initially most of the kids didn’t know how serious the situation was. We had told them Lisa was in the hospital, but we didn’t elaborate. We have letters going home to parents (Thursday). We’ll let them talk with their kids and go from there.”

Carlson said the children at TKW range in age from 6 weeks to 12 years old.

“Lisa did end up working with some of our school-age kids, especially in the summertime,” he said. “They realize she hasn’t been around. After her passing (Wednesday night), we knew we needed to sent letters home to parents. Lisa formed good relationships with the kids, so it’s going to be tough when they find out. It’s hard enough to process as an adult, but it can be even more difficult for the kids.”

Carlson said he has been working on getting “some sort of resources” to have available to help people through the grief process. He’s also making himself available for staff members.

“I’ll be there for them if they need to talk or if they want to share anything,” Carlson said. “We’ll help each other through it. Hopefully we can get through this together.”

Carlson also wanted to let the family know how much Zimmer meant to the child care organization and that everyone in the community and beyond was thinking of them at this difficult time.

“Lisa was greatly appreciated,” he said. “She was making a difference in the kids’ lives and will be sorely missed. I want to share our condolences and deepest sympathies to Lisa’s family and those closest to her. I can’t imagine the pain they’re facing.”

Zimmer is survived by three daughters — Jessica Walton, Tricia Harder and Nicole Schwalbe — along with several grandchildren.

Through a Caring Bridge site for Zimmer, the trio shared that their mother was a registered organ donor and that her death was bittersweet. Zimmer died Wednesday evening at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“11:10 p.m. is the moment our world stood still — the moment the cold room got colder and the dark room got darker,” Walton wrote. “But, it was also the moment someone else’s world started moving, someone else’s room got warmer and someone else’s room got brighter.”

Walton shared that the LifeSource team had found a match for their mother’s liver and that the hospital performed a flag-raising ceremony to honor her for choosing to be an organ donor.

“This has been one emotional roller coaster ride,” she said. “Mom was our light, our warmth, our world. Mom has gone home. She was greeted by her parents and her dogs. She is free.”

Former TKW aide Brittany Andree recalls Zimmer beaming with joy when she talked about her daughters and grandkids.

“She always talked about her family and how much she loved them,” Andree said. “She was definitely a family person.”

But Andree said the impact Zimmer had on people spread even further than her family and the children she engaged with regularly.

“I worked with Lisa quite a bit,” Andree said. “She was really good at her job with kids. She was always so positive. She did a tremendous job with them.”

Andree said Zimmer was someone she could talk to and who would make her feel better.

“I called Lisa my adopted grandma,” Andree said. “She was one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met. She always had my back and was there when I needed to talk or a shoulder to cry on. You will be greatly missed by many children, co-workers, myself and most definitely your grandchildren and your children. I will forever cherish meeting you and you will always be on my mind and in my heart.”