Health care advocate loses cancer battle

BY ROBERT A. COHN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

Carole Zimbrolt, Ph.D., long active in humanitarian causes, including advocating for health care for needy children and the mentally ill, died July 26, 2006, of a recurrence of cancer that had been in remission for several years, at the Missouri Baptist Hospital. She was 67 and a resident of the city of St. Louis at the time of her passing.

Dr. Zimbrolt was praised by her many professional colleagues, friends and those who benefited from her many years of advocacy for a variety of humanitarian and health care causes and organizations in the community. She was described as a major driving force in support of Health Care for Kids, a pediatric clinic that provides primary care and after-hours urgent care for both insured and uninsured inner-city children.

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Dr. Blaine Sayre, medical director of Health Care for Kids, paid warm tribute to Dr. Zimbrolt in a statement to the community and in his eulogy to her at the funeral services, which were held at Central Reform Congregation, officiated by Rabbis Susan Talve and Randy Fleisher.

“I think it important to note that both Health Care for Kids and Dental Care for Kids closed down so that our entire staff could attend the memorial service for Carole; this illustrates the real essence of the relationship. Carole’s interrupted goal was to establish a new clinic for HCFK and DCFK in South St. Louis at Nebraska and Sidney streets.” He said that in his final visit with Dr. Zimbrolt just before she died, she told Dr. Sayre, “Blaine, I won’t be able to see the new clinics.” He added, “if one cannot imagine Carole looking down on such a facility, then perhaps one can imagine it being seen through the eyes of yourselves and generations to come, whose vision of this and countless similar projects was made possible by Carole.”

Similar warm words of praise were expressed by Arlen Chalef on behalf of WINGS, an organization that works with and advocated for the mentally ill and their families in the community. “WINGS has lost one of its shiniest stars with the passing of Carole Zimbrolt,” Chalef said. “Carole was one of WINGS’ major donors from its inception and was truly a star in many ways to the Jewish and general communities of St. Louis. She was vice president for social responsibility for CRC when we met. She invited me to talk about WINGS and living with mental illness at a CRC Friday service several years ago. She believed in the mission of WINGS from the very beginning and made major contributions over the past few years, including helping us meet the expenses for a fundraiser with a check from her foundation. The fact that she took WINGS under her wing was one of the miracles of our program.”

Rabbi Susan Talve and Rabbi Randy Fleisher each paid tribute to Dr. Zimbrolt at the funeral service at CRC.

“I know that many of you are in shock,” Rabbi Talve said. “This was not supposed to happen, and we had little warning. But what has been apparent in the past few days is that Carole did not leave us alone. From Winnepeg to Israel to Ethiopia to Minneapolis to St. Louis, Carole became part of the fabric of the place, and we were so grateful to be part of her life; just look at what she has done … At a time when the awful us and them, the terrible twos of existence, are dividing different peoples and faiths, she brings us together to remind us that we are one family, that there is not other, no us and them, just us.”

In his remarks, Rabbi Fleisher said, “Carole thrived here when she helped connect us to others. She worked to connect those at CRC dealing with illnesses and disabilities to our members who are healers. She created programs so all of us could connect with those in our community who are vulnerable and underserved.”

Maris Berg, a fellow member of CRC and one of Dr. Zimbrolt’s many friends in the community said, “Carole was truly an inspiration to everyone who knew her and had the privilege of working with her in her many activities to help children, the mentally ill and so many others in the community. She will be deeply missed and always appreciated for her service and her friendship.”

Following the funeral service at Central Reform Congregation, burial was at the Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery on Ladue Road.

Dr. Zimbrolt, who held a Ph.D. degree in anthropology, is survived by her husband, Joseph Zimbrolt of St. Louis. She was the sister and sister-in-law of Ronald (the late Joyce) Fromson of Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada and Gail (Clarence) Aasen of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Memorial contributions are preferred to Health Care for Kids, 4055 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63l08, or Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63l08.