In Memoriam: Shirley Zimmerman

Shirley Zimmerman

NCFR member Shirley L. Zimmerman, Ph.D., died on March 31, 2020, at the age of 95. She was a member of NCFR for 40 years.

Dr. Zimmerman was an esteemed scholar of family policy and practiced social work in the area of child welfare. She was a chair of the NCFR Family Policy Section, and vice president of NCFR. While vice president, she served as the program chair of the 1996 NCFR Annual Conference.

Dr. Zimmerman had a storied academic career at the University of Minnesota (U of M) spanning five decades. She earned her bachelor's of arts, and after raising four children, returned to complete her master's and doctorate degrees in social work.

While working toward her advanced degrees, she worked for the U of M as social welfare researcher and lecturer in social work. Following appointments as assistant director, instructor and assistant professor in social work, Zimmerman joined the Department of Family Social Science in 1982 and retired as professor emeritus in 2000.

Dr. Zimmerman’s research focused on how state policies affected individual and family well-being. She wrote four books on family policy theory, authored numerous journal articles, gave many presentations at local, state national conferences, and was principal investigator on research projects that explored the link between state expenditures and policies in health, education and public welfare and family well-being. 

Dr. Zimmerman also worked as a caseworker and consultant for county and statewide health-related organizations including as chair of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Family and Children.

Read a tribute from the U of M's College of Education and Human Development. 


A eulogy for Dr. Zimmerman will be given at the 2020 NCFR Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, as part of the memorial service held at each annual conference.

During this service, the names of any NCFR members who have recently died are read aloud. Members who have served as an NCFR board member, journal editor, or are conferred NCFR Fellow status are given a eulogy.

If you learn of an NCFR member who has passed away, please email Trip Sullivan.