To friends and family, Donald Zimmer was the picture of a gregarious local politician - a fun-loving public servant who smoked a trademark pipe, stuck up for the rights of senior citizens and was always quick with a quip.
But to others, he is best remembered as a member of the "Brookhaven Four," a group of former Brookhaven officials accused in a 1994 federal indictment of selling cooperation to Port Jefferson developer John McNamara for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and favors. Zimmer was later acquitted.
Zimmer, who served on Brookhaven's Town Board for seven and a half years, ending in 1989, died of lung cancer on Friday. He was 76.
His oldest son, Donald D., recalled sneaking out of work to go to court on the day his father was acquitted in 1995. Donald Zimmer kept the mood light until moments before the verdict arrived, his son said. "All you could hear is my father, telling jokes," Donald D. Zimmer said.
Zimmer grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and sold peanuts at Ebbets Field as a boy, said his son Kristian. He later moved to Patchogue and worked in sales for National Cash Register for many years, Kristian said.
Zimmer, a Republican, became interested in public service in the late 1970s and was an aide to Rep. William Carney, a Conservative who served in Congress from 1979 to 1987. It was during that time that Zimmer became involved in Brookhaven Town politics, his sons said.
Brookhaven Town Republican chairman Jesse Garcia, whose father Jesus Garcia was close with Zimmer, said Zimmer's passion was for assisting senior citizens. He described Zimmer as "very gregarious" and "able to light up a room."
Zimmer was indicted after McNamara, who was awaiting sentencing for defrauding General Motors out of more than $400 million in a massive pyramid scheme, cooperated with investigators in exchange for leniency.
The other indicted members of the Brookhaven Four were former town board member Anthony Losquadro, former planning board member Anthony Aliperti, and former planning board member Peter Sapienza. Sapienza pleaded guilty to two counts of extortion and one count of income tax evasion, Losquadro was acquitted and two trials of Aliperti ended with hung juries.
Zimmer is survived by wife Lucille, sons, and grandchildren Shane, Benjamin and Samantha.
A memorial will be held for Zimmer from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at Moloney's Lake Funeral Home, 132 Ronkonkoma Avenue., Lake Ronkonkoma. Cremation will follow privately, a spokeswoman for the funeral home said.