I had the privilege of knowing Kurt Zimmerman, a gentle, sweet man who moved through his world with kindness. Referred to as a folk artist, a visionary, and an Abstract Expressionist, I met him in the early 2000s. Impressed by his creative spirit, when asked, he willingly allowed my University of Central Florida students to interview and film him. We exchanged holiday cards and occasional letters. One of his images graced my 2004 co-authored book, Just Above the Water: Florida Folk Art.
He was born in 1925 in Plochingen, Germany, and immigrated to the United States when he was four. By 1929 he and his family had settled in Schenectady, New York. By the time he graduated from high school, he was a proud and patriotic American citizen. As World War II was raging, he joined the army and was sent to fight in Germany. Bombing his country of birth was difficult for him; it felt as if he were killing his family and friends. But he continued his service to his adopted country after the war, experiencing combat in Korea in the 1950s.