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Rj Zimmer Memorial

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Memorial Tree and Bench Dedication Ceremony at Carroll College, Helena, Montana on June 7, 2016

A very sunny afternoon was a perfect setting for the event on the Carroll College campus. Family, friends and colleagues attended Zim’s tree and bench dedication, some having traveled from distant parts of the country to attend. Just as the presentations concluded, a deluge of rain blew in with the summer storm. Participants had to run for cover into Simperman Hall, where Carroll College hosted refreshments for us to socialize with one another. Zim would have been pleased at the happy scramble of folks.

The memorial event handout is available

For those who could not come, Tulasi Zimmer offers the photos with this update, and a video of the event as posted on YouTube below.

A note to everyone from Mrs. Rj "Tulasi" Zimmer:

"On behalf of myself and the Zimmer family, we want to deeply thank the land surveyors and GIS professionals for their generous contribution (and support) to the living memory of our beloved Rj "Zim" Zimmer. The installation of the tree, bench, and plaque, at Carroll College, is a thoughtful gesture for remembering the service Zim gave to your profession, education, and the community. We are forever grateful for your living memorial as a reminder of how Zim touched our lives."

You can find Zim’s memorial site at Carroll College, in front of Simperman Hall, uphill from the Newman Observatory. Global Map app was used to locate the site:

1,214 meters (3,983 ft) above sea level and 46.60016 N/112.03818 W (lat/lon). Everyone is welcome to visit Zim’s memorial site. The bench is constructed of stone quarried from the Parliament Formation in western Montana. The Tatarian maple tree “Hot Wings” was grown in Trout Creek, Montana, and five years old at campus planting time. Enjoy the views from the bench, watch his tree grow and change with the seasons, and muse on the examples he set for all of us.

Proceeds from the memorial fund ($1,590.00) remaining after material expenses associated with the site dedication event were used to purchase Zim’s landmark books:

GIS For Surveyors: A Land Surveyor's Introduction to Geographic Information Systems , 2013 (ISBN 9780988873735 0988873737)
GCDB Handbook: Using the Geographic Coordinate Database as a Resource in a Geographic Information System , 2013 (ISBN 9780988873711 0988873710)

Libraries in Montana and Oregon with a surveying program, and schools where Zim attended or taught were offered one copy of each book. Carroll College and Flathead Valley Community College are new Montana recipients of the book set donation, as is Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. Zim’s books are catalogued in libraries across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Oregon State University, Geomatics program has an uncatalogued copy of each book. For a listing of where his books are catalogued see

Many thanks are due to all the folks, organizations and businesses that made Zim’s memorial and living legacy possible:

• Carroll College (tree and bench caretaker, dedication ceremony host)
• Montana Association of Geographic Information Professionals (MAGIP board and members)
• Montana Association of Registered Land Surveyors (MARLS, Central Chapter and statewide)
• Trophy Case (tribute plaque)
• Montana Nursery & Landscape Supply (tree nursery and stone quarry, nurseryman and stone bench artist)

Donations are no longer being accepted through GoFundMe.

Read a news article published this May 10, 2016 in the Helena Independent Record on Zim, GIS and cadastral mapping. Jonathan Ries a Professional Land Surveyor who submitted the article, writes about the history of cadastral mapping and collaborations among the GIS and surveying communities.


Rj Zimmer, “Zim”, was the consummate GIS professional, teacher, consultant, writer and land surveyor. Sadly, Zim passed away from an illness in Helena, Montana, April 21, 2015.

Zim generously devoted his time and expertise to grow professional geospatial organizations, improve land surveys and data accuracy, assist emergency services, and develop GIS educational programs. He was a humble, hard-working visionary and mentor to many people in business, government, non-profit and academic sectors.

Memorial Tree    We wish to honor Zim by planting a maple tree on the campus of Carroll College, Helena, Montana, where he last taught GIS. A rustic stone bench and tribute plaque is intended to create a place for folks to visit, sit and remember this renaissance man. As his tree grows and as he aptly showed us, we can all be inspired to live a dignified, well-balanced and effective life.

Tree Dedication and Reception    A tree dedication event open to the public is in the planning stages for Spring 2016 (late May). Date and time of the tree dedication event, once funded, will be announced here in order for folks to make attendance and travel plans.

Funding Goal $2,000.00    Your contributions will cover costs associated with the tree purchase, delivery and installation, together with a rustic stone slab bench and a tribute plaque. Funds will also be used to pay costs associated with the tree dedication and reception event open to the public. Dedication event and reception costs will reflect anticipated attendance numbers. Carroll College will provide care and maintenance for the installed memorial.

Funds received that exceed this goal, not spent on costs for the tree memorial, will be used to purchase and distribute Rj Zimmer’s last two instructional books (see below) for library placements in Montana and elsewhere (libraries TBD).

Please Join Us

Stay tuned for updates on Zim’s memorial. If you would like to help organize, provide project support or volunteer on Zim’s behalf, please let us know.
Questions and comments can be sent to [email redacted]

More about Zim

Zim was raised in Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Science in engineering physics from Oregon State University.  He began surveying in 1977 and performed land surveys throughout the Pacific Northwest.  He was licensed to practice land surveying in both Oregon and Montana.  Since his start in GIS in the 1980s, Zim developed hundreds of spatial databases and geographic information systems for private, non-profit and public programs.

*  A two-time recipient of ESRI’s Award for Special Achievement in GIS

*  Received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award in GIS from the Montana Association of Geographic Information Professionals (MAGIP) .

Zim was a prolific writer and leading collaborator.  He not only designed training materials and user manuals, he frequently published in the Surveying and Land Information Systems journal, Professional Surveyor Magazine , and American Surveyor.

Zim’s most recent books on surveying and GIS reflect his many years promoting interdisciplinary advancements.

*  GIS For Surveyors: A Land Surveyor's Introduction to Geographic Information Systems , 2013      

*  GCDB Handbook: Using the Geographic Coordinate Database as a Resource in a Geographic Information System , 2013

Zim gave many presentations on GIS, GPS and surveying, and last taught GIS courses as an adjunct faculty member at Carroll College, Helena, Montana.  He co-founded the former Montana GPS Users Group, chaired the Montana Local Government GIS Coalition, and was a member of the Montana Governor’s Council on GIS.  In 2012, Zim accomplished his dream to study and receive his master’s degree in geomatics engineering from the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

Zim loved hiking and camping in the mountains. He and his wife, Tulasi, tended their home, trees and garden in the hills overlooking the Helena Valley and Continental Divide.  Zim was a strong advocate for protection of wildlife and land conservation.  When not on the job, Zim’s creative spirit flourished as a photographer, when playing guitar and composing music.


  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 8 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

MAGIP Montana
Helena, MT
Valerie Jaffe

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