Arnold E. Zimmerman, a retired Air Force colonel who founded a leading Sacramento vocational school, MTI College, died Monday of complications from heart surgery, his family said. He was 89.
Responding to an advertisement in The Bee, Mr. Zimmerman and his wife opened the Market Training Institute in 1965 to teach courses on how to operate cash registers for jobs in the growing supermarket industry. Classes began in a small building near 21st Street and Capitol Avenue with six instructors while the founder was away.
"I was still in the Air Force at the time, and I was ordered to report to a military airlift test exercices about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii," he told The Bee in 1994. "But we had the teachers in place, and they obviously did a great job."
During 46 years, MTI College has grown from a mom-and-pop school to a fully-accredited community college offering diplomas and associate degrees in accounting, business, cosmetology, health care, paralegal and technology.
The for-profit professional school, which moved into a four-acre campus on Madison Avenue in 1993, has turned out 15,000 graduates for careers in the Sacramento business community.
"My dad told me early on, 'Don't worry about the business worry about the students,' " said his son, John, who succeeded his father as MTI College president. " 'Focus on the students and their success, and you'll have a successful business.' "
Arnold Edmund Zimmerman was born in 1921 in New York. He completed a civilian pilot training program while attending Queens College in New York and flew the famed flying boat airliners known as "clipper ships" for Pan American Airways before joining the Army Air Corps in 1942.
He earned a meteorology degree at Florida State University and flew with weather reconnaissance units in the United States, India, Japan and Bermuda. He rose to the rank of colonel and was vice commander of the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing at McClellan Air Force Base. He retired in 1966.
Mr. Zimmerman had five children with his wife of 59 years, the former Euna Bodde.
He belonged to the American Meteorological Soicety, the National Business Education Association and Sacramento Rotary Club. He was a member of the Order of Daedalians, a military pilots group. He remained chairman of MTI College after retiring as president in 1986. Besides boating and visiting Lake Tahoe, he enjoyed traveling and spending time with his wife, who died in 2003.
"That was kind of a big loss for him," his son said. "He was very much a family man."