By Michelle Graff
Wilmington, N.C.--Roberta Zimmer, one half of the team that started Reeds Jewelers and helped it grow into a major jewelry chain, died May 16. She was 92.

Born Nov. 11, 1924 in Birmingham, Alabama to Louis and Annie Kantor Goldfarb, she attended Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama.

She met the man who would be her husband, William R. Zimmer, during the brief period he was stationed in Birmingham area during World War II.

The couple got married and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1946 where, according to an online history of the company, they bought a small jewelry store that was for sale downtown and renamed it Reeds Jewelers. (Bill Zimmer already had experience in jewelry, having worked in his family’s stores.)
20170522 Roberta ZimmerRoberta Zimmer

Over the years, Roberta Zimmer worked side-by-side with her husband, growing Reeds into a multi-store operation while still running the downtown Wilmington store and having four children.

Today, Reeds Jewelers remains a family-run retail chain and has more than 60 stores.

Outside of jewelry, Zimmer was active in nonprofit organizations including the St. John’s Museum of Art, the Cape Fear Garden Club and The Founders’ Society of Duke University. She also was a longtime member of B’Nai Israel Synagogue.

Zimmer was preceded in death by her husband, who died in 2002 at the age of 84.

She is survived by her four children and their spouses, Herbert J. Zimmer and his wife, Ronna; Arlene Z. Schreiber and her husband, Ronald; Alan M. Zimmer and his wife, Rose; and Jeffrey L. Zimmer; and 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held last Wednesday at B’Nai Israel Synagogue.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Zimmer Cancer Center, B’Nai Israel Synagogue or a charity of the donor’s choosing.

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