At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Whitehall Education Association in care of Whitehall District Schools
541 E Slocum St
Whitehall, MI 49461
Please indicate in the memo Line "for Robb Zoellmer"
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Humble, generous, and kind, Robert "Robb" G. Zoellmer lived his life in heart-centered service to others. Driven by an innate need to learn, grow, and help others to do the same, Robb was a gift to many. A devoted husband, father, teacher, and friend, Robb’s zest for life and all of its gifts will long inspire the lives of those who were lucky to have known him. Revered by many, Robb will be fondly remembered and sadly missed.
1953 marked the end of the Korean War, and the nation began to lean into a much welcomed time of peace. The year proved to hold exciting firsts; the polio vaccine was developed, the first color television sets, transistor radios, and Corvette cars were on sale, while the first James Bond novel made its debut and Peter Pan, From Here to Eternity and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes filled the theaters. The middle-class standard of living continued to grow and appeared to have no boundaries; it was definitely a time of much hope. Nowhere was there greater cause to celebrate the possibilities of hope than in the hearts and home of William and Mildred “Peggy” (Malmanger) Zoellmer II as they welcomed their son Robert George into their family on August 8th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Growing up in the Cascade area of Grand Rapids, MI Robb spent much of his youth exploring the five acres of his childhood home. Along with his older siblings, Bill and Nancy, Robb grew up under the watchful eye of their mother and hard work of his father who was an engineer for Lear Siegler. Without a doubt, Robb’s favorite place on their land was the pond in the front yard. It was here that Robb spent many winter days playing hockey with the neighborhood kids. The rink was a natural arena for fun, adventure, and friendly rivalries played out to the great music that rocked out from rinkside speakers. Robb did his fair share of tending to the family’s horses, the barn, and their winter time sleigh as well as hanging out with his two best buddies, Steve D’Arcangelo and Paul Hansen. Robb’s time on the rink, exploring the land, and friendships with Steve and Paul became the firm foundation upon which Robb built the rest of his life.
An avid reader, Robb was naturally drawn to History, Social Studies, and politics. Combining all of his interests, after graduating from Forest Hills High School he went on to Grand Valley University where he not only studied to become a teacher, but also played hockey for the University. While in college, Robb experienced two awesome adventures. He took a road trip to Alaska with several of his buddies, and he met the love of his life, Diane Rozyski.
Robb and Diane were both studying to become special education teachers. This shared calling and life path proved a powerful cornerstone in their relationship. Upon graduating with their teaching degrees both Robb and Diane found teaching jobs in the Muskegon area where Diane grew up. Robb was hired by the Whitehall Schools while Diane was hired by Reeths Puffer. Shortly after starting their carriers, Robb and Diane married on October 23, 1976.
The happy couple made their home in several different places before finally building a house in Fruitland Township on 20 acres of land. Welcoming their son Adam in 1979 and daughter Emily in 1980 called Robb into his most treasured role: fatherhood. Being a father was singularly Robb’s greatest honor. He relished in sharing time with his children and the privilege of watching them grow into wonderful adults. Some of the family’s favorite memories include playing trivia games with Diane’s Aunt Ruthe and Dave and fun trips to visit Robb’s brother Bill at his home on the lake where they would ski. When he was younger, Robb enjoyed running and participated several local races just for fun. For many years the family enjoyed the sweet companionship of their Norwegian Elkhound Kodi, who Robb named after the bears he saw on his college Alaska trip.
As a teacher, Robb was nothing short of devoted and proved to be one of the very best. He lead with his heart and the full knowledge that building solid relationships was really what it was all about. Robb began his career in Special Education. He later moved to general education teaching both 4th and 5th grade and finished his career as a Middle School teacher. Regardless of the grade level he taught, Robb left a positive impression on his students, many of whom kept in touch throughout the years. Knowing that his students’ needs extended far beyond the classroom, Robb voluntarily hosted many after school open gyms where he and the kids could play floor hockey together. During these games, the kids were gifted the opportunity to learn from Robb in a nontraditional way. He encouraged them to take risks and, as the biggest kid in the game, to know that it’s perfectly acceptable to never grow up! Robb also organized and chaperoned trips to Washington DC, coached Odyssey of the Mind, helped plant community gardens, and took kids on nature walks. He even found time to coach his daughter’s fast pitch softball team.
Not only was Robb committed to his students, he was a willing mentor and advocate for his peers. As president of the Teachers Union, Robb took on the enormous commitment to fighting for and protecting the many families he served. Though a daunting responsibility, Robb willingly held the job with both dignity and respect. Robb’s many efforts to be of service to his students and fellow staff were aptly acknowledged by the honor of being elected as Teacher of the Year; a well-deserved affirmation of his selfless contributions to his Whitehall community.
At heart, Robb was somewhat of a homebody. With a deep passion for nature, botany, and especially water conservation, Robb preferred to spend time walking on the beach and through the woods. Anytime spent kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding on Duck Lake and the White River was sure to inspire a smile and a light heart for Robb. During the winter he and Diane enjoyed cross country skiing and snowshoeing; years of “old man hockey” also provided quite a bit of fun.
After retiring from teaching in 2010 and Robb followed began working as a Park Ranger at Duck Lake State Park. He loved being able to combine his love of the outdoors with his inherent call to service. Being out in the woods and making a difference provided much fuel for Robb’s spirit. In addition to his many other calls to service, along the way, Robb pursued a license to perform marriages. Performing ceremonies for his friends and family was another powerful way Robb expressed his love. Never one to sit still for very long, Robb preferred to keep busy, continue learning, and continue to find ways to make a positive difference in the world. His latest endeavor was in learning to become a beekeeper last summer.
Clearly, Robb’s unexpected departure has rocked an unimaginable blow to the hearts of those who were privileged to know him. While feeling as though we are suddenly skating on Life’s rink shorthanded, may deep comfort be found in knowing that Robb’s legacy lives on in the many gifts he bestowed upon our hearts. And that we can continue to honor his spirit by listening to the calls to serve others, exploring Nature’s wonders, cherishing time with our loved ones, and celebrating each day we are given.
Mr. Robert "Robb" George Zoellmer, age 63, passed away unexpectedly Thursday, July 20, 2017, at home. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 8, 1953, to William II & Peggy (Malmanger) Zoellmer.
Wife of 40 years, Diane; son, Adam Zoellmer of Seattle; daughter, Emily (Jeremiah Osmolinski) Zoellmer of Phoenix; brother, William "Bill" Zoellmer III of Cedar Springs; sister, Nancy Zoellmer of Belleville. He was preceded in death by his parents.
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:00 pm at the Clock Chapel - Muskegon.
Wednesday, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Clock Funeral Home - Muskegon. MEMORIAL: In lieu of flowers, please give to the Whitehall Education Association for a scholarship fund in Robb's name.