Culpepper Garden assisted living resident Bertha Zimmerman looks forward to celebrating her 97th birthday this December in the community she calls a “wonderful place” with “the best service.” And she should know. She moved into Culpepper Garden independent living in 1992 with her husband. After 20 years in independent living, she moved into assisted living five years ago, after her husband passed away. She receives Social Security and a small pension. Her limited income doesn’t cover assisted living costs, but with community support she is grateful to remain in her Culpepper Garden home.
Born in Ecuador, Bertha met her future husband, Walter Zimmerman, an Austrian who visited school friends in Ecuador after attending University in Vienna. While in Ecuador the war broke out and he remained to work in agriculture as a cattle breeder, thus escaping the perils of WWII. It was love at first sight for Walter and after a brief courtship they married. They immigrated to New York with their three children to live close to Walter’s brother. Bertha has fond memories of those years. After 25 years there, they relocated to Arlington, VA. Walter worked as a foreman in New York and in property management at the World Bank after moving to Arlington. Bertha was a seamstress doing alterations for Lane Bryant on Fifth Avenue in New York City and later at Woodward and Lothrop in Washington, DC. She still sews and made the dress she is wearing in the photo.
When they retired, Bertha and Walter visited Culpepper Garden and were eager to move in after they learned of the daily exercise classes, ate a delicious lunch in the dining room and Walter found that the receptionist spoke German. Bertha happily remembers that her son Walter, Jr., played the guitar and she would sing on special events at Culpepper Garden. Bertha still enjoys singing at assisted living.
Bertha’s children are grown professionals. After university, Ingrid works as a psychologist in San Francisco for a nonprofit. Irene is an anthropologist who studied in Ecuador and Colombia and received two M.A. degrees from George Washington University. She lives nearby with her husband. Their son, Walter, Jr., is very artistic and plays the guitar beautifully. As the holiday draws near, she looks forward to spending time with her family. (November 2017)