Hyman J Zimmerberg died peacefully at home in the house he built 64 years ago in
Highland Park, NJ. He lived his 98 years with vigor, intellectual curiosity and humor. Born at
home on Hester Street in New York City’s Lower East Side on September 7, 1921, Hyman moved as a child to Brooklyn where he played stickball in the street while listening to baseball games on neighborhood radios perched on the tenement window sills.
Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers University, Hyman was best known on
campus for his active support for academic freedom. When he was president of the Rutgers
chapter of the American Association of University Professors, he led the defense of antiwar
speaker and Rutgers historian Eugene Genovese in the 1960s and helped block Genovese’s firing. He later played a role in the recognition of the AAUP as the faculty bargaining unit. He had learned the value of unions, along with the importance of education and family, from his parents, Morris and Manya Zimmerberg, immigrants from Poland.
Hyman attended Brooklyn College where he met his first wife, Helen Yarmush
Zimmerberg. Hyman was the President of the Math Club; their three-man team of
undergraduates won the Putnam Competition, the most prestigious university-level
mathematics competition in the world. The Math Club also proclaimed their support for the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade—American volunteers, many of them college-age, who took up arms for the Spanish Republic against the fascist General Franco.
Receiving his BA in 1941, Hyman moved west to attend graduate school at the
University of Chicago. After their marriage in 1943, Helen joined him in Chicago and began her graduate studies in biochemistry. Their early marriage had a secret – Helen was also working in a lab under the football stadium as part of the Manhattan Project, investigating the biological dangers of radiation exposure. Hyman contributed to the war effort by teaching trigonometry to soldiers learning meteorology to guide the Air Corps bombers over Europe.
After completing his PhD in 1945, Hyman began his first academic position at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Helen entered graduate school at Duke University. Uncomfortable with the Jim Crow segregation encountered there, they were happy to move back north in 1946 when Hyman accepted a position in the Math Department at Rutgers College. They began their family with the birth of daughter Sharon in 1947. Betty, Joshua, and Morris would follow. The most profound sorrow that Hyman and Helen faced was the loss of their daughter, Sharon, from cancer at the age of 21.
Professor Zimmerberg taught at Rutgers until his retirement in 1991. His published
scholarship was on Algebraic Boundary Value problems in the field of Analysis. He was
particularly proud of his development and directorship of a National Science Foundation
Undergraduate Research Participation Program in Math from 1962-1977.
Hyman loved to travel. Each summer the family would head north or west for a camping
trip, exploring many national parks. Hyman was always physically active, bicycling, gardening, and pitching for the Math Department softball team. After his daughter’s death, Hyman started long distance running. He ran the New York City marathon five times, and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC thrice. He also ran in many 10K races, especially loving the Falmouth Road Race while visiting son Joshua at the Woods Hole Marine Biology Labs. Hyman ran well into his 80’s, winning many trophies for his age group!
Hyman looked back fondly on a sabbatical semester spent in 1972 at the Hebrew
University in Jerusalem, Israel, with Helen and their youngest son, Morris. After their
retirement, he and Helen traveled to Europe, Israel and Peru. They spent several months a year in Sante Fe, New Mexico, where Morris now lives, and on Cape Cod with the families of Betty and Joshua. They were active and loyal members of the Highland Park Conservative Temple and Center. Sadly, his love and intellectual companion of 58 years, Helen, died in 2001. Hyman married his second wife, Francine Rosen Kritchek, in 2006. He knew her from his days at Brooklyn College, where she had been a close friend of Helen’s. Francine had a long and happy marriage to her first husband, Irwin Kritchek, raising two daughters, Suzi and Robin, on Long Island. Hyman and Francine reconnected after Irwin’s death, and enjoyed their “elder” romance and companionship until her death in 2018.
Hyman is survived by his two younger sisters, Sylvia Cohen and Eleanor Halpern. He is
also survived by his three children and their partners, Betty Zimmerberg and Dale Fink, Joshua Zimmerberg and Teresa Jones, and Morris Zimmerberg and Iku Fujimatsu. Hyman also leaves grandchildren, Julia and Patrick Aziz, Daniel and Sarah Glick, Jessica Zimmerberg-Helms and Seth Applebaum, Jonah Zimmerberg Helms, Rin Fujimatsu, Aaron Zimmerberg, Joseph Zimmerberg, Nathan Zimmerberg, and Jacob Fink. In addition are six great-grandchildren, Kaleb Aziz, Jeremiah Aziz, Marisa Aziz, Bella Malvesti, Arthur Glick, and Wren Glick. Hyman is also survived by his step-children Robin and Kenny Onufrock and Suzi and Charles Schultz. Hyman will also be missed by his nephew Mark and nieces Janet, Susan, Marcia and Laurie, and their partners and children. The whole family can recite Uncle Hy’s mathematical jokes and riddles.
Memorial donations may be made to Herschel Center for Sustainability,
, or Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society,
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