Noted Surveyor and Author Rj Zimmer Passes

Rj "Zim" Zimmer, 63, passed away on April 21, 2015, in Helena. He left this world with the same courage, fearlessness and grace with which he lived his life.

Zim’s life began on April 16, 1952, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and his hometown was Acton, Massachusetts, near Boston. After high school, Zim’s sense of curiosity and adventure led him to explore the country, hitchhiking the Pacific Northwest and Canada several times. Zim eventually settled in Corvallis, Oregon, where he raised his two children.

In 1977, he began land surveying in Oregon and building a career that focused on Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He received many awards and accolades for his accomplishments and innovative thinking. During his time working in Corvallis, he helped transform and modernize mapping for the local county government.

In the late ’90s, Zim moved to Montana, where he participated in the Helena and regional community, including proudly serving as city-county GIS manager and volunteering his GIS and mapping services to the local fire districts.

In 2012, Zim earned a Master of Geomatics Engineering degree from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This was a longtime dream and one of his proudest accomplishments. He also had a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics from Oregon State University in Corvallis. He shared his extensive knowledge and experience with others by — presenting at professional conferences and teaching in both Oregon and at Carroll College in Helena.

Zim was an accomplished and respected author. His articles were published in American Surveyor magazine, Surveying and Land Information Systems (SALIS) journal, and Professional Surveyor magazine. His book, “GIS for Surveyors: A Land Surveyor’s Introduction to Geographic Information Systems,” was published in 2013 and has been recognized as an authoritative resource for professionals in the field.

His love of the natural world informed both his professional life and his many passions and interests. Zim found peace and harmony in nature; he loved to spend time hiking mountains and camping in the woods. He was a strong advocate for the protection of wildlife and land conservation. He valued a healthy lifestyle, enjoying fitness and a variety of sports. Zim expressed his creative spirit through guitar playing, composing music and photography.

He will be remembered and carried in the hearts of those who knew him. May he find peace and many mountains to explore.

Per Zim’s request, any contributions or donations can be made in his name to Helena Food Share, 1616 Lewis St., Helena, MT 59601; and The Defenders of Wildlife, Attn: Plan Giving Dept., 1130 17th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.

A celebration of his life will take place at his home Saturday, May 2, 2 p.m., located at 9063 Douglas Circle. Please visit to offer the family condolences or to share a memory of Rj “Zim”.