Billy Zimmermann wasn’t your average Villanovan. Yes, he followed in his father’s footsteps here, dined on an absurd amount of Campus Corner on the weekends and chucked up his V’s in way too many photos; but Billy was different. He knew how to live life, without even realizing it.
When most people think about Billy or “Zilly,” maybe they think of his million-dollar grin, his famous “Wazzz Gucci?” line, or maybe even that time he ate four hot dogs at a sorority event.
If you didn’t know Billy, you missed out, for he figured out the recipe to life in his short 19 years, something that takes a lifetime to achieve for the average Nationer.
He was loved, cherished, and most importantly, admired. To Billy, everyone was a peer, someone to whom he could relate and crack a joke, but never someone to complain to. Genuine and free-spirited, Billy provided company that everyone enjoyed and welcomed with excitement.
His parents, Bud and Susan Zimmermann, his brothers, Shawn and Brian, and his sisters, Meghan, Kaitlin and Shannon, all admired his easygoing personality and his ability to serve as a role model for his younger siblings.
Not just at home but also at Villanova, people wanted to emulate Billy; his glowing smile and wit brightened up the day for everyone. His presence in the world was a gift from God.
He was known to be a bit of a “wanderer,” someone who could stroll the campus and immediately encounter someone he knew. Billy didn’t live by a schedule but by the natural rhythm of life: he went with the flow of things, never stopped to ask questions and just lived. Billy was most appreciated within the Greek and soccer communities. As one of six children, Billy embodied the innate qualities of generosity and compassion. He was respected in his beloved Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and his state championship Seton Hall Prep soccer team.
He placed the needs of others above himself. Whether it was a teammate, a brother, or even someone he barely knew, Billy treated all with respect, love and compassion—something often lacking in the society in which we dwell. Billy’s impact on the Villanova community was immense. His worth to the University is proven in the words of his numerous close friends. As Billy’s fraternity brother, great friend and “pledge buddy,” sophomore John Hartunian, wrote, “Thanks Billy Zimmermann. You carried me, and not just that once. Every day you were with me, you carried me. Now it’s your turn to rest. Billy taught everyone to be selfless and to be connected with the thoughts, feelings and concerns of our peers, as opposed to our own desires.
Billy taught us all, most importantly, to love others. Close friend and fraternity brother, sophomore Will Weinstock, said it best:
“Despite only knowing Billy for a year and a half, there a few things I’ll never forget. Billy could change anyone’s day in seconds. I’ll always remember the way he could walk into my room, throw his shirt halfway off so it would hang off his neck, and jokingly worry that his booty sweat might have soaked through his pants in his last class. The way he could start a conversation with himself, and immediately make you forget what you were so worried about was unique to him. He captivated our attention every moment he was around us with his humor and incredible personality.”
“Billy was a friend who always cared about others over himself,” Weinstock said. “He knew that I wasn’t the best at sharing or the most generous person in the world, and I often told him I wished I could be more like him. Billy was by far the most selfless and generous person I’ve ever met. Billy never hesitated to do anything for his friends even if it meant changing his plans. His agenda meant nothing to him as long as he changed it to be with those he cared about.”
“I will always look up to Billy as a role model,” Weinstock said. He taught me to always put others before myself and remember what is really important in life—Love and happiness.”
William F. Zimmerman will be missed by the people of the Nation, but his legacy of love, kindness and humor lives on through his family, friends and now famous Campus Corner “Zilly” bacon and ranch fries.
As the poem on his prayer card said, Billy would have liked to be remembered as he was, happy and in love with life.
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one, I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done. I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days. I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun. Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.