Dick Zimmer was born in Newark, NJ and grew up in Hillside, Bloomfield and Glen Ridge. His father was a mailman and his mother sold encyclopedias.
He won a full academic scholarship to Yale, from which he graduated with high honors in political science. He graduated from Yale Law School, where he was a member of the board of editors of the Yale Law Journal.
Dick Zimmer began his legal career as an associate at the nationally known firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
He then became a general attorney for Johnson & Johnson at its corporate headquarters in New Jersey and served as a member of the board of directors for a number of Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries.
Zimmer was a member of the New Jersey State legislature for nine years. As chairman of the State Government Committee, he was an effective advocate of open government and Initiative and Referendum. As a member of the Senate Revenue, Finance and Appropriations Committee, he vigorously opposed higher taxes and spending. He was the prime Assembly sponsor of New Jersey’s original farmland preservation law and the prime sponsor of legislation creating the state’s radon detection and remediation program, considered a model for the nation.
In 1990, Dick Zimmer was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served three terms, representing New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District. Zimmer was ranked three times the most fiscally conservative member of the entire Congress by the National Taxpayers Union and every year he served in Congress he was named a “Taxpayer Hero” by Citizens Against Government Waste. He fought for legislation to use unspent money from lawmakers’ office budgets to reduce the Federal deficit and led by example, returning hundreds of thousands of dollars from his own office account during his six years in Congress.
Dick Zimmer was author of the federal Megan’s Law, which requires that parents be notified when a convicted sex offender moves into their neighborhood, and the “No Frills Prisons” law, which banned luxury items like cable TV, microwaves, weight-lifting equipment and video games from federal prisons.
After leaving Congress, Zimmer joined the Princeton, N.J. office of an international law firm, where he successfully represented New Jersey’s non-profit nursing homes in averting significant reductions in Medicaid funding and obtained state approval for continuing care retirement communities to provide home health care services. He secured funding of a program for the safe disposal of dredged materials by using them to seal abandoned Pennsylvania coal mines.
For the last seven years, Zimmer has been practicing law at the firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. As a member of the firm’s Public Policy Practices Group, he counseled clients whose interest were affected by government. On behalf of the family members of the military men killed in the Beirut Marine barracks bombing, Zimmer successfully lobbied to enact legislation enabling victims of terrorism to recover damages from terrorist states.
Dick Zimmer taught graduate students as a Lecturer in Public and International Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.
He and his wife Marfy Goodspeed have lived on a small farm in Delaware Township for more than 31 years. They have two sons: Carl, who is a science writer, and Benjamin, who writes about language and is a web producer for VisualThesaurus.com. They have two granddaughters and a grandson.