Hansjoachim “Red” Zimmermann had a fun personality.

He had the type of laugh that prompted everyone around him to start laughing, said his daughter Linda Adams. “He could have been part of the theater, cueing everyone to laugh,” she said.

Mr. Zimmermann died Wednesday. He was 76.

He was born in Berlin, Germany, and earned his journeyman license in plumbing and heating through an apprenticeship before immigrating to the United States.

He met Gladys and Douglas Pate of Saco while he was working in Germany as a plumber in the homes of U.S. Army personnel, said his wife, Liselotte Zimmermann.

Mr. Zimmermann came to the United States in 1956 and was sponsored by the Pates for his citizenship in the early 1960s.

With Germany still recovering from World War II, Mr. Zimmermann had a difficult time finding a job there, said his sister Heidemarie Lenke. He saw immigration as an opportunity to find a job and live the American dream.

After he settled in Saco, his wife and children immigrated as well.

Mr. Zimmermann began working for Duranceau Plumbing and Heating. After working for various companies for years, he decided to start Zimmermann Plumbing and Heating. He was one of the first master plumbers in Maine to receive his license for the installation of radiant floor heating, his sister said.

“It was new on the market (when he was licensed). At the time, it was expensive, too,” she said. It was a heating luxury that he never installed in his home.

When it came to laying out the schematics of a home heating system, his sister said, Mr. Zimmermann had a keen eye. As a self-taught drawer, he enjoyed sketching designs for systems, she said.

Mr. Zimmermann continued working until 2006, bringing his grandson Jonathon Adams into the business. He encouraged his grandson to pursue his master plumber’s license, which Adams earned shortly before Mr. Zimmermann dissolved the company because of his failing health, his wife said.

Mr. Zimmermann’s sister, who also moved to Saco, remembers people in Germany telling her that the streets of America were paved with gold. After immigrating, she quickly realized she would have to work like her brother to make a living.

But she remembers good times with Mr. Zimmermann, who was 17 years her senior.

A week after she moved to Maine, her brother decided to introduce her to lobster, which she had never seen. Just before he dropped the lobsters into the pot of boiling water, he chased her around the house with one, she said.

“We had a fun time with him. He was always up to something,” she said.

Mr. Zimmermann used to sing “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” to his grandchildren Jonathon and Laura Adams, often scooping them up on his shoulders. His daughter said it was their favorite song.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]