Charles Ziemer - Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

April 9, 1915 - July 4, 2014

Charles W. "Charlie" Ziemer, age 99, of Minneapolis, died peacefully on the afternoon of July 4th, surrounded by family and friends. Preceded in death by parents John and Cora, brothers Raymond, Harold, Gilbert, and Kenneth, sister Florence, son David, and first wife Connie. Survived by loving wife Delores, sons Paul (partner Gael), James (wife Rosa) and grandchildren Daniel (Michelle), Christine (Stephen), Bradley (Cindy), Elizabeth (Jamie), Matthew, Emily, Theodore (Katie), Sasha, Christopher, and Sarah, and 8 great grandchildren.

Charlie grew up on a farm near Waltham, MN, the youngest of six children, and received a B.A. from St. Olaf College, an M.A. in music from the University of Minnesota, and an honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Nevada (Reno). As a young man he enlisted in the Navy Reserve during WWII and served as a Lieutenant Jr. Grade on the staff of 3rd fleet commander Admiral W. F. Halsey, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star medal and a Gold Star for meritorious service in the Pacific theater.

Upon discharge in 1946, he embarked on a career teaching music in MN schools (notably choir at Virginia H.S., 1947-1954, Richfield H.S., 1954-1974), tutoring piano lessons (1931-1985), and performing as an organist and choir director (notably Woodlake Lutheran Church, 1954-1971, and 1st Church Christ Science, 1972-2012).  He will always be remembered for his amazing keyboard skills, and for sharing his love of classical music to thousands of students, parishioners, and friends for over 80 years. He was a loving father and devoted husband.

Memorials to the American Diabetes Association or Park Nicollet Methodist Hospice program.


  1. Mary Barnett says:

    Dear Dear Charlie and Dee, We owned the Inn @ Palisade B & B on the North Shore, for all the years those two romantics motored to the Shore for the full moon and the Shore they loved so much. They brought treats, I made apple pies and Charlie played the piano. Very special friends, we will miss them but never forget them.

  2. Dick Kamleiter says:

    I had Charlie as a teacher at Richfield from 1954 when the high school opened, until 1956 when I graduated. He was an amazing music teacher.

  3. Tova Brandt says:

    Mr. Ziemer, as I always referred to him in person and in my own mind, was a wonderful piano teacher who guided the first ten years of my piano study at the end of his own teaching career. What he really taught was a philosophy of music and of life that honored beauty, dedication, and a willingness to strive for perfection. I treasure the arrangements of music that he developed and was willing to share with me.

  4. Sandy Nye Buckner says:

    What an incredible teacher and man!!! He always had fun with us and was as kind a person as you could want to know. I was so blessed to have had him as a teacher at Richfield. We called him Uncle Charlie and he always laughed!! God bless the memory if this remarkable man.

  5. Jan (Tomkinson) Neumeyer says:

    I graduated from Richfield High in 1969 and have only great memories of my music teacher, Mr. Ziemer. Not only was he an amazing and talented music director, but he also had the challenge of teaching students who didn’t always appreciate being in choir. He knew how to accomplish both and I remember being so excited to sing in our concerts. Thank you for the memories, Mr. Z.

  6. Pam Juengling says:

    Mr. Ziemer was my choral teacher from 1970-1973 at RHS. I learned a great deal of choral repertoire from him – Vivaldi, Britten, Randall Thompson – that I still remember when I hear those works performed now. He was also a good colleague of my dad, Al Juengling, in the Social Studies Dept. for many years. RIP.

  7. Ann Ludvigson Hiner says:

    Uncle Charles is how I knew him as a young girl. I was just beginning my 12 years of piano lessons. His playing, and his grand piano, inspired me to become the accompanist for my high school choir. I did not know his music training was honed at St. Olaf College, where my cousin (his son David) and I started our college years also. Our love to Paul and Jim and their families as they bury their talented father tomorrow.

  8. Marsha Patterson Balfanz says:

    Mr. Ziemer was my choir teacher at Richfield H.S. in 1963 & 64. What a wonderful man. We all loved him and when he entered the room we would all sing “Charlie is My Darling, My Darling…”. We were privileged to have him as our teacher. What a wonderful life he led and what a wonderful legacy he has left. My sincerest condolences to all his family. He will certainly be missed.

  9. Patti Speelman says:

    I lived in the Twin Cities for just 15 months and attended the church at which Charlie was the organist. The job I had in Minneapolis was difficult at best and truly horrible at worst. Charlie’s music at the church services was a great solace. More times than I can count, he intuitively played something that put back together the pieces of my broken soul. His talent was obvious and his skill impeccable. I had no idea he was in his 90s at the time! While I was there, he made a huge gift to the church of a new organ. What a generous spirit he was. I will always remember him as a bright, shining light in a dark place in my life — and I don’t know if he ever even knew my name. But that’s all right. Because I knew his. My deep condolences to his family.

  10. Sally L says:

    I once wrote a short story about someone who had had a great influence on my life. When my teacher read it (Delores), I’m sure it gave her great pleasure that I had written the story about her now husband. Got an “A” on that one!
    He was part of our household starting in first grade with piano lessons every Monday afternoon. My Mom would serve him coffee and a home-made treat while he sat by my side at the piano each week. When I told her he had passed (she’s now 95) she said, “he wanted to live to be 100 and he almost made it!”. He loved peanuts comic strip and would often bring one that particularly tickled him to share with us!
    Loved, loved, loved being in his choir in H.S. and part of the Madrigal singers.
    He sent me stack of beautiful CD’s of some of my favorite classics that I still enjoy. Amazing man, amazing musician and a shining star who lead many of us through our childhoods with his joy for life and love of music.
    My sincere condolences to his family. I will miss him.

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