Obituary: Charlotte Zilm

August 10, 1934 – June 30, 2022

Charlotte Bea Norstrum Zilm (b. August 10, 1934) passed away on June 30, 2022, at the age of 87 in the comfort of the home she loved in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. She had outlasted COPD and congestive heart failure for quite a while. The love of her life, William (Bill) Zilm, preceded her in death two years prior (June 18, 2020).
Charlotte was born to Helen and Lloyd Norstrum in Des Moines, Iowa. She was preceded in death by her younger brother, Robert (2020), and is survived by her older sister, Maxine. In her youth, she enjoyed competing with the North High School rope jumping team, which won competitions and invitations to appear on television. She always had a strong work ethic, working multiple jobs in her youth at institutions like Drake University and the Des Moines Register, on her way to becoming an accomplished secretary and more.
When Charlotte was 18, she was introduced to Bill Zilm. She knew quickly that he was special. They were inseparable and wanted nothing but to be together, so the couple married on Christmas Eve in 1953, and then had two exceptional children, Kurt William (b. 1955) and Mark Robert (b. 1958). They raised their sons in Des Moines, investing in land and building spec houses until 1960, when they moved to Memphis so that Bill could pursue optometry. While the boys started grade school and Bill studied, she worked. She took pride in supporting the family to help Bill successfully attain his doctorate in optometry in 1964.
In 1965, the Zilm family moved to Glenwood Springs, where they would plant their forever roots and build their businesses. Charlotte worked side-by-side with Bill to build his optometry practice, 20/20 Eyecare, and the Sunlight I and Sunlight II subdivisions on Four Mile Creek. Every step of the way, Charlotte did everything she could to bring success to the people and places that she cared about.
Charlotte was very civic-minded; her sense of home extended beyond her house and to the larger community. She volunteered at the polls, and she supported charities and politicians. One special way that Charlotte and Bill gave back to the community was by hosting an annual event on their property to give local youth the opportunity to learn how to fish. Charlotte spent as much of her free time as possible with her sweet William at their remote fishing camp in Canada on Laird Lake. Many of their most cherished memories were made on the water with poles in hand and friends by their side. She was always up for an adventure. Whether flying into the Zilm fishing camp on a float plane, horse packing on the Flat Tops, sightseeing in Mexico, or taking the RV on a trip, she always included family and friends.
Most importantly, Charlotte was a shining example of love and commitment to family. No matter the circumstance or distance, she was always there. Charlotte always said the most valuable thing she had was her time, and she gave that generously.
Charlotte is survived by three generations who will miss her dearly. Her younger son, Mark Zilm, and his wife, Phyllis, are long-time residents of Glenwood Springs. Their children Nick, Sarai, and Kenna remain in Colorado. Kenna and her 2-year-old son Isaac were with Charlotte every day in the months preceding her death. Charlotte adored hearing a great-grandchild’s pitter patter and giggles throughout her house. Her older son, Kurt Zilm, lives in Connecticut with his wife, Velma. Their children Charles, Katie, Emily, Michael, Lauren, and Johnathon have moved all across the country. She was very proud of all nine of her grandchildren, who will miss feeding fish in the pond, cooking, fishing, shopping, riding bikes in the canyon, getting advice, and hearing stories about their ancestors from their Grandma Char. She is also survived by 7 great-grandchildren: Lydia, Martin, Isaac, Alexys, Ashton, Madeleine, and Oliver.
In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to your favorite charity or donate your time, as she so often did, to your community.

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