Hal Zimmerman; the Great Networker

November 16, 2011

By Martha Martin, Editor

Hal Zimmerman

In August I attended the memorial service for Hal Zimmerman, long-time Camas citizen, owner of the Camas-Washougal Post Record for 23 years, state legislator for 22, as well as advocate for his city’s quality of life, which eventually earned him the title of “Citizen of the Century”.

Zimmerman worked as news editor of the Sedro Woolley Courier-Times and as editor-publisher of the Cowlitz County Advocate in Castle Rock before buying the Camas Washougal Post-Record in 1957.  He also served as President of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

Hal Zimmerman’s memorial was Friday August 26th, and the large space at Grace Four-square church was not quite filled.  There was, however, a sizeable crowd.  It wasn’t the number of people, but the quality of people in attendance that was impressive.

That room had more history under one roof than I’ve seen in years.  Hal’s son Steve was the main speaker, and then there was Nan Hendrickson, the former Mayor of Camas, along with Jerry Reed, a long time associate at the original Post Record who worked for years with Hal.  Brent Erickson of the Camas-Washougal Chamber spoke about his experience as a teen, and Hal was his mentor.

Everyone was given a name tag as they entered the foyer.  When was the last time you attended a memorial and wore a name tag?  But that gave everyone a chance to get acquainted, and I sat next to a man, Dick Carter, who ran two campaigns for Hal.

The Mayor of Camas, Scott Higgins, was there, along with Camas council person, Steve Hogan.  I did not see any City of Washougal government officials.  Maybe they saw this as a Camas thing, but Hal was always there for both cities.

We heard stories about his life, and about how he was able to find common ground with almost any person he met.  He was the great “networker”, and developed relationships.  Hence the reason for the name tags.

There were many people who were stooped, who sported white hair, some with canes or walking with careful steps.  These are the people of the previous generation who were part of the foundation for our communities.  And Hal was part of a history that needs to not be forgotten; when people were able to talk with each other over coffee, debate issues, and then still walk away friends.

Hal was a good friend of my uncle, Howard Martin, who was Post Master of Camas for many years.  He and Hal were members of the Chamber, and also Kiwanis.  Hal served as President of the Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce. Those trees you see in downtown Camas?  Hal and my uncle, along with others, were the people who got those trees planted.

Our Citizen of the Century

Hal and my uncle were on opposite sides politically, and yet they always managed to work together, always finding that common ground, and our communities received the benefits.

My hope for Washougal and Camas is that we can learn from this man, who set the bar for honest politics and good journalism.  People can make a community great if they pull in the same direction.

Thank you to Hal, who gave us his gift, so we can learn by example.