Friends remember Kurt Zimmerli for his love of art, culture and Spartanburg

Spartanburg philanthropist Kurt Zimmerli is being remembered as a skilled businessman and for his contributions to the arts, community and to higher education at Converse College.

Zimmerli, a native of Switzerland and founder of Zima, a textile machinery company, and Kusters, a paper machinery company, died at his home Sunday. He was 93.

Friend and fellow Converse Life Trustee Bill Barnet described Zimmerli as a thoughtful and skilled businessman and leader who, with his wife, Nelly, made major contributions to the beauty of Spartanburg. The Zimmerlis paid for the amphitheater in Barnet Park. In addition, the green space at the Spartanburg County Headquarters Public Library and the courtyard of the Chapman Cultural Center also are named in their honor because of their contributions to the projects.

“Their generosity of both spirit and resources is evident across the face of Spartanburg. The gift of the amphitheater and fountain in the community park, the building at Converse College bearing their name, the fountain honoring the legacy of his friend Hans Balmer and the statue at the entrance of the library — all are examples of willingly given aesthetic assets we all can share. The support of our symphony is yet another blessing we can celebrate,” Barnet said.