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Judith K. Zimmett, 75, animal lover, had dog return after October Surprise

June 20, 1942 - Oct. 13, 2017

Judith K. Zimmett was one of those people who loved animals -- and animals loved her.

"She could make a butterfly land on her finger," said her daughter, Jodi L. Victor.

In 2006, Mrs. Zimmett's beloved German shepherd ran away a few days after the October Surprise storm on Oct. 12, an early lake-effect storm with heavy snow that brought down trees and power lines.

Mrs. Zimmett and her family canvassed the neighborhood, put up fliers, notified veterinary clinics and followed every tip. They were reunited with the 2-year-old dog, Zed, two days before that Thanksgiving. The story of Zed's odyssey was featured in The Buffalo News.

And, after she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease last December, her current German shepherd, Zuzu, slept next to her bed.

Mrs. Zimmett, 75, died Friday in Hospice Buffalo in Cheektowaga.

Born in Buffalo, the former Judith Wagner was a graduate of Grover Cleveland High School.

She started a 30-year career in cable at Courier Cable in 1977. The office was across the street from her house, and she was was the only customer service representative working in the evening.

"She was the customer service person from 5 to 9, the only one for the whole system," Victor said.

When the company transitioned to computers in 1978, she was a natural, ultimately working her way up to management information system manager for TCI Buffalo.

When Adelphia took over, Mrs. Zimmett became a senior software analyst until 2006, when she became a freelancer for Comcast until she retired in 2007.

A lifelong animal lover, Mrs. Zimmett was a docent for the Buffalo Zoo.

She enjoyed exploring the city, beaches and parks with her German shepherds, first Ed and Zed, who both died, and for the past five years, Zuzu. Victor said her mother regularly packed her dog and her lunch in her car -- which she called her apartment because she had a change of clothes in case the weather turned -- and headed out to explore.

"She was natural with them," Victor said of animals.

She said her mother grew up with animals, and there always were animals in her own house. But they were small animals, like cats and rabbits.

"My mother always wanted a dog, but didn't get her first dog until 1997," she said. "She loved her dogs. She was friends with neighbor dogs before that."

Among her many friends was someone she met while walking her dog. When she got sick, he took Zuzu on daily walks with his dog, Victor said.

Mrs. Zimmett had completed docent training with Preservation Buffalo Niagara. She also served as treasurer for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church for 25 years, until her illness kept her from performing her duties.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Zimmett is survived by her husband, George P.; son, George P. III; five sisters, Sally Jefferson, Peggy Lepkowski, Sandra Holden, Nancy Baumann and Lori Moscato, and two grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 3017 Main St.

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