Jack Zimmerman celebrates 60 years at The Sheffield Press
In April of 1957, a 17-year-old high school student walked into The Sheffield Press and asked for a job as a printer, and 60 years later, Jack Zimmerman is still there, writing and printing from that same office.
Zimmerman already had a job delivering milk from the local dairy in the morning, and went to school full time, but his friend Bill Endriss told him the paper was looking for some help.
“Bill said they were looking for someone to come and learn the business, to be a printer,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman’s brother had also been a printer at The Press before moving on.
Endriss did caution him not to tell the paper’s owner, E. F. “Sully” Sullivan, that he wanted the job for gas and cigarettes.
“I came in and sat down and I lied,” Zimmerman said chuckling, “I told him a wanted to be a printer. I really wanted money for gas and cigarettes.”
He got the job and was paid 50 cents an hour in 1957.
“That’s what you get for lying, 60 years later and I’m still here,” Zimmerman said.
He worked in the dairy in the morning, went to school and worked at The Press after classes.
“I worked the Linotype (typesetting machine) and figured I had a job for life,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman has lived the majority of his 76 years in Sheffield, with a brief 15-year stint in Mason City.
He actually quit school for a couple of weeks. Zimmerman didn’t tell Sully he had quit, and when his boss found out, he gave Zimmerman an ultimatum, go back to school or not have a job. He went back to school and graduated in 1959.
“Sully became like a father to me,” Zimmerman said. “He really looked out for me.”
He learned a lot as a printer, and more than just the Linotype. He mastered the handfed printer, perforation, cutter and everything else that’s goes with the printing industry.
Some of the original machines he worked on are still in use today by Zimmerman, and he still does a lot of printing himself, even though the actual newspaper is printed in Hampton now.
Zimmerman spent six years in the National Guard, and earned the rank of Staff Sergeant E6.
Sully sold Zimmerman the paper in 1973, where he ran the business for another 35 years as the owner. At the height of the business there were six people working at The Press, including Zimmerman.
In 1966, Zimmerman married Lidia Honczarenko, who he would spend almost 42 years with. She worked at The Press for many years, with the Zimmerman’s working together to produce The Sheffield Press.
They had one daughter Angela, and Zimmerman’s granddaughter—named Lidia—is his pride and joy. He spends as much time as he can with little Lidia.
“She loves to dance,” Zimmerman said with a smile. “We have a lot of fun together.”
After 35 years of running the paper, the Zimmerman’s decided to sell the business, they wanted to travel the country.
During the time The Press was for sale, Lidia Zimmerman was diagnosed with cancer.
“She found out [about her diagnosis] right before Christmas of ’07, and lived until September of ’08,” Zimmerman said.
In January 2008, the Zimmerman’s sold the business to Mid-America Publishing, giving up control of the paper.
The CEO of Mid-America asked Zimmerman to stay on, working in Sheffield at the same office he had been at for over 50 years.
“I don’t much like travel, and wasn’t going to do it by myself,” Zimmerman said. “I decided to stay on.”
Zimmerman is a fixture in Sheffield, a native that knows what is going on and who is doing it. He has dedicated his life to telling the stories of his neighbors, and has made a lot of friends along the way.
He has no plans of retirement, and will keep rolling along, printing, joking, and telling stories.