Valerie was born July 30, 1941 in Beckley, West Virginia, the second child of William and Beatrice Binderman. She was a quintessential wartime baby, the trailing end of the Silent Generation, born while her father was serving in the Pacific Fleet. After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School as a member of the class of ’59 she moved west to attend San Diego State. It was there she met a young Navy Shore Patrol officer, Walter Zimba (b. 1938 – d. 2023). After he was discharged from service they made their way by auto back to her hometown and in true mid-1960’s fashion were married en-route in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Valerie and Walter had two children, Andrew who currently resides in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Joel who resides in Baltimore, Maryland. Unfortunately, everlasting marital bliss was not in the cards for Valerie. She and Walter divorced in 1980. She never remarried.
What she did do was raise two boys through the 80’s as a single mom. This was an economically rough time in West Virginia, and Valerie worked very hard in her father’s business to support her kids into their college years. Around this time another tragedy struck, this one medical instead of marital – Valerie was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Ever the fighter, Valerie soldiered through chemotherapy and a single mastectomy. This was when she began walking daily (a routine she kept until very recently), and her healthy diet obsession (though she did have a weakness for ice cream 😊). She was the mailing list and email address keeper for the Woodrow Wilson Class of ’59 Alumni Association.
Around 2011 she moved to Newport Lakes in Rock Hill, South Carolina, just a few miles from her oldest son Andrew and his family. Here she had something that wasn’t available to her in Beckley – a large, close community to be a part of. A place to walk and talk with neighbors, something she truly valued. Those who knew her during this period probably noticed somewhere along the way that she had begun mis-remembering things and re-telling stories you had already heard. This was the start of her journey with Alzheimer’s. As with breast cancer before, she was a fighter and carried on, determined to stay in her own home and live unassisted. Even after being diagnosed with a recurrence of her breast cancer 2018, she remained fiercely independent.
Valerie passed away in her own home around 7:00 p.m. on June 16, 2023. She is survived by her older brother Philip, niece Rachel, youngest son Joel, eldest son Andrew, and grandchildren Zachary and Fallon. She will be making her final journey back home to Beckley to lie beside her parents. Graveside services will be 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at Sunset Memorial Park with Rabbi Joe Blair officiating.
We will be making donations in her name to the Alzheimer’s Association (https://act.alz.org/) and the American Cancer Society (https://donate.cancer.org/), and invite you to do so as well if you are able.