No person, organization or company was too powerful for attorney Bucky Zimmerman to take on.
In a career spanning nearly five decades, Zimmerman waged battle against legal foes that included Target Corp. (for a massive data breach), the National Hockey League (related to players' head injuries), the Vatican bank (accused of accepting World War II plunder) and the tobacco industry in a landmark case two decades ago.
Many of the cases included hundreds of plaintiffs from across the country in high-profile, sometimes controversial class-action litigation that often generated extensive media coverage and big payouts to clients and his firm.
"Bucky felt the law could adjust inequities," said Gordon Rudd, managing partner at the Zimmerman Reed law firm, which has offices in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Zimmerman, 72, died in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Feb. 24 following a short battle with cancer.
Charles Selcer Zimmerman, who went by the nickname Bucky, was born Aug. 17, 1946, in Minneapolis. He graduated from West High School and attended the University of Minnesota for his undergraduate and law degrees. He would later serve as an adjunct professor at the U Law School, and he delighted in mentoring young people entering the legal profession.
He founded the Zimmerman Reed law firm in 1983, often focusing on cases that aimed to protect the public from dangerous products and practices. Zimmerman cut a charismatic figure in the courtroom and beyond — aggressively representing clients but always remaining a gentleman, Rudd said.
"Nowhere was his civility more noticeable than with the courts," Rudd added. "Bucky had immense respect for the judges he appeared before."
Carolyn Anderson, a managing partner at the firm, said "he wanted to expand the law to make the world a better place. He always believed the law was up to the task."
Zimmerman lived life fully outside of work, too. He loved playing golf, riding his motorcycle and traveling the world.
A tennis player at the University of Minnesota, he was a member of the Professional Tennis Association and obtained a national ranking. He won gold and silver medals at the World Maccabiah and Pan American Maccabi Games in Israel.
One of the most meaningful chapters of Zimmerman's life involved his courtship and marriage to Pat Miles, the retired longtime anchor for WCCO-TV and KARE 11. After meeting on a blind date in the late 1970s, they dated for several years but ultimately parted ways.
Later in life (after marrying and divorcing their respective spouses), they began dating again and married in 2006. "The beauty of the second time around is that we didn't try to change each other like you do when you're young," Pat Miles Zimmerman said. "He was one of the good guys."
Zimmerman doted on Miles' daughters, Betsy Cowley of Pulga, Calif., and Kate Cowley of Ely. His generosity was seemingly limitless — he helped Betsy buy property to operate an events business in Pulga. "He was a great, unbelievable stepfather," she said.
Rudd recalled in his eulogy that his partner was a "connector, not a divider. Bucky never forgot how connected we all are in our lives and in our communities. He had a way of figuring out what we had in common."
In addition to his wife and stepdaughters, Zimmerman is survived by his sister, Judy Rhodes of Anthem, Ariz., and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Services have been held.