Neil Zimmerman, 77, died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Accord, NY on February 28.
Neil had a special talent for making friends and bringing people together. An avid hiker, he was president of the NY/NJ Trail Conference from 1987 to 1999, where he was instrumental in developing their excellent hiking maps, which are used by nearly everyone who hikes in New Jersey and New York. He is a co-author of two books, Fifty Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley and Fifty Hikes in New Jersey. His “day job” was as chief librarian at the Population Council in New York City from 1974 to 2017. One of his many accomplishments there was the development and implementation of a global program to provide academic books to libraries in developing countries.
As he told it, Neil’s hiking career began in 1974 when he won a car in a raffle. To get some use out of it he started camping with friends. He fell in love with the Shawangunk Mountains in particular around 1980 when the Mohonk Preserve asked him, as the then Map Chairman of the Trail Conference, to help produce a hiking map set of the area. He was subsequently appointed a member of the Minnewaska State Park Master Plan Advisory Committee, formed by PIPC and NY State Parks shortly after the big 1987 Lake Minnewaska addition. He served as the Chair of the American Hiking Society, as a Governor of the Adirondack Mountain Club, and as a member of the DEC’s Forest Preserve Advisory Committee.
In retirement Neil served on the boards of the Town of Rochester Food Pantry, Friends of the Shawangunks, and The Shawangunk Conservancy, chairing the latter two from 1998-2013, and volunteered at Angle Food East in Kingston.
Neil hiked and trekked the world over, from Nepal to Peru, including the arduous Annapurna circuit, and the Tour de Mont Blanc. He also rafted the Colorado River for its total length. Twice. He always returned from a trip with a funny story. He was member of the Catskill 3500 Club, ADK 46ers, AMC NE111, 100 Highest and 4000Footers. He was working on the Colorado Fourteeners and the Highpointers list. He also enjoyed canoeing and biking.
He will be greatly missed by his family, his friends and neighbors, and those he worked with over the years.
Neil is survived by his sister Judith Roshke and nephews Mark and Richard Maltz.
Suggestions for donations: The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Friends of the Shawangunks, NY/NJ Trail Conference, Mohonk Preserve, President’s Challenge Scholarship program at Ulster County Community College.