Tragedy struck the Villanova and Basking Ridge, N.J., communities on March 8, as the news of the death of university sophomore William “Billy” F. Zimmermann of Far Hills, N.J., reached his family and friends. Zimmermann, 19, commonly referred to as “Zilly” by the many people who knew and loved him at Villanova, died in an automobile accident while on spring break in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a vacation resort at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. Four of Zimmermann’s Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity brothers were also involved in the accident and sustained injuries.
Zimmermann was a truly engaging and outgoing individual whose million-dollar smile could light up the Pavilion.
Hundreds of family members, friends, classmates and teachers honored Zimmermann in services held this week. Beginning on Sunday, March 10, University President Father Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., celebrated Mass in his name for a large number of students gathered in the chapel. On Monday, March 11, and Tuesday, March 12, Zimmermann’s wake and funeral were held in Basking Ridge, N.J., at St. James Catholic Church.
The presence of so many students at his services was proof of Billy’s impact on his world. He not only excelled at Villanova, but he also made a name for himself during his high school years at Seton Hall Preparatory School, located in West Orange, N.J. He was an integral member of the 2009 state championship soccer team at Seton Hall. In 2010, his team went on to win the Essex County championship. That year Billy received the Dr. Richard Grady award, which is given to “the unsung hero, the player who does all the things a team needs done to win and often does it with little fanfare or notoriety. He is the player who provides all the intangibles selflessly for the overall good of the team on and off the field.” In 2010, Billy was awarded All-Essex and All-Conference honors for his contributions on the field.
After graduation, he followed in his father’s footsteps to Villanova, where he continued to stay actively involved in soccer and became a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. As an economics major and Spanish minor, Billy maintained a 3.2 grade point average in his classes. A remarkable student, brother, teammate and friend, Billy embodied the values and pride of the University. He was selfless and giving. People were attracted to his animated presence, and now they are holding on to their memories of his radiant grin, his Tommy Hilfiger polo shirts and even his appetite for Campus Corner bacon ranch fries.
Zimmermann is survived by his parents, Bud and Susan Zimmermann, brothers Shawn and Brian, sisters Meghan, Kaitlin and Shannon, grandparents Mary Brown and Frank and Bernadette Zimmermann and many friends.
Vice President for Student Life Rev. John P. Stack said, “Please keep our students and their families in your prayers, especially the Zimmermann family.”
The next edition of the Villanovan, on March 21, will offer a longer tribute to Villanova’s beloved “Zilly.”
In the meantime, the next time you step into Campus Corner, make sure to order the Zilly (B&R) Fries, the ordinary late night snack of one very extraordinary person.