Rev Matthew A. Zimmerman Jr.and First Lady Barbara Zimmerman Jr. born Dec. 9th 1941 in Rock Hill S.C. The 2nd child of five born to Rev. Matthew A. Zimmerman and Alberta Brown Zimmerman. He grew up in a very loving and Christian family. He tried his best not to get in trouble, but could be very mischievous, which caused his dad to bring out the belt or his mom would use the broom. But above all he was exceptionally smart. He was skipped 2 grades and therefore to the chagrin of his sister Martina, they wound up in the same grade.
He graduated from Sims High School as VALEDICTORIAN. He attended Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. where he participated in so many activities—can’t even begin to list them. But one of his favorite was playing in the Marching Band. He played the French horn. He was loved, and appreciated by all who loved him. He was considered a BMOC (Big Man On Campus). But was a very nice one!
During his senior year, he was fortunate to meet (although he didn’t realize it at the time), a beautiful young Lady who would a few years later become his Wife –(that would be Barbara)! He graduated from Benedict College (Magna Cum Laude), with a degree in chemistry and many other awards and honors. He had planned to go to Medical School, but he was offered a Scholarship to Duke Divinity School and decided to give it a try.
During his last year of Divinity School he realized he was missing something…could it be he realized that Barbara was the missing link in his life? YES IN DEED! And so it was…. they became an item, through the intervention of his youngest sister Christine, who was at Benedict College with Barbara. He tells the story that he married Barbara because he needed someone to type his term papers. But everyone knew the real story.
Speaking of Barbara, she was born January 21st 1944 in South Carolina to Margaret and Harold R Boulware. Her mother was a public school teacher and her father was a civil rights attorney who worked alongside Thurgood Marshall on the Brown vs. Board of Education case as well as many other historically relevant civil rights cases. He later became the first African American family court judge for the state of South Carolina. She was a cheerleader in high school, graduated at the age of 16, and attended Hampton University in Hampton, VA. However she was incredibly homesick and came home after her freshman year. Once home she went to and graduated (BA Degree) from Benedict College, Columbia S.C. She is the mother of three daughters – Tina, Dana, and Meredith and grandmother of three—Jordan Steppes, Evelyn and Robert Bishop. She retired from the U.S. Army Finance and Budgeting Office after a federal career of over 30 years.
Oh and Mrs. Z, Rev Z. says and I quote “ She is a GREAT WIFE, MOTHER, GRANDMOTHER, ALTO SINGER AND LOVES RELATING TO PEOPLE”. Her children describe her as the backbone of the family, the love of their lives, and someone so wonderful, they don’t mind sharing her with the First Baptist Church family!
Now, back to Rev. Zimmerman… He became the first African American student to graduate with a master of divinity degree from Duke University. He was ordained by the National Baptist Convention, Inc., USA and began serving as campus pastor at universities and colleges throughout the country. Later he became the 1st African American to receive a Master of Science Degree in guidance and counseling from Long Island University in New York (1965).
In 1967, he entered military service and was commissioned captain by direct appointment. Shortly after becoming a chaplain, he served in Vietnam. He also served in Panama, Grenada and in the Desert Storm campaign. On April 13, 1989, President Bush nominated him for promotion to brigadier general. Following confirmation by the U.S. Senate, he was appointed deputy chief of chaplains of the United States Army. The following year, he was promoted to major general and appointed chief of chaplains, the first African American to hold this position.
In 1990, he was the recipient of the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins Meritorious Service Award. Of course our Maj. Gen. Matthew A. Zimmerman Jr. has received numerous decorations for his service to the military and many more civilian honors and the list just goes on and on and on. Whew!
In 1998, he was asked to become the Pastor of First Baptist Church and he has served for 16 years and the Church has forbidden him to reti—reti—retire. There I said it.
He is known around Warrenton and many parts of Virginia as the Gentleman with the Unlit Cigar and a Bag Full Of Crossword Puzzles.