Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service

Chanelle Zimmer

October 4, 1969 ~ February 25, 2019

Chanelle Zimmer, 49, passed away peacefully on Monday, February 25, 2019 after a five-year battle with cancer. Chanelle was born October 4, 1969, in Syracuse, New York. She developed her life-long love of horses and the outdoors on her Dad’s farm in Cazenovia, New York. As a girl, she spent countless hours riding through the woods and having adventures with friends and horses. After studying business at the University of Buffalo, she left for the warmth of San Diego where she met future sister-in-law, Carol Zimmer, a Bozeman native. Carol invited her on her first river trip – the middle fork of the Salmon – and Chanelle was hooked. It was there that she met Carol’s younger brother Brian. She moved to Bozeman and fell in love with Brian and with Montana. 

She left Bozeman only once to work for the Peace Corps in Botswana. Her stay in Botswana was longer than anticipated. As she was leaving the country to reunite with Brian, she was arrested for having in her possession an ostrich egg that she had picked up on a lion preserve, not knowing that it was illegal. Her stories of that misadventure were both harrowing and hilarious, and always told with laughter and a twinkle in her eye. 

When she returned home, she settled down and married Brian on August 28, 1999. They settled on a beautiful property on Trail Creek Road where Chanelle was able to keep a horse of her own. Brian and Chanelle had many adventures together exploring the backcountry and rivers of Montana. She had an entrepreneurial spirit and she and Brian always had a business venture in the works. Chanelle got her real estate license and excelled in her career because of her special ability to relate to people. 

Brian and Chanelle welcomed Ambrose Louis Zimmer to their family on May 8, 2009. Brozie was the light of their lives and they brought him up to love the things they loved. At age 9, he can roll his kayak and row a drift boat down the Yellowstone River, and his hockey team recently won second in the state championships! The family loved to travel together and have adventures. They floated many rivers, including the Grand Canyon, and traveled to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Aruba for beach vacations. In addition to rivers and beaches, they enjoyed cross-country skiing, fly fishing, and hanging out at the family home on the Yellowstone River. 

Chanelle loved her horses and was a talented horsewoman. She competed in reining and most recently participated in clinics in dressage, cowboy dressage and working equitation. Her beautiful mare Sky was her refuge and she spent many hours with her riding in the arena and in the mountains. After her cancer diagnosis she decided to paint, and became an accomplished self-taught artist. Her vibrant and colorful paintings of horses and other animals have hung in galleries on Main Street and in many a home of friends and family members.  

She loved to laugh and have fun and was always game for an adventure. She accepted people for who they were, gave them the benefit of the doubt and never judged. She possessed a quiet presence and strength that drew people to her and put them at ease. She will be deeply missed by her family and friends, but her beautiful spirit will live on in our hearts. 

Chanelle is survived by her husband, Brian Zimmer; son, Brozie Zimmer; mother, Natalie Sluzar; sister, Kimberlee Bush; nieces, Seanna Farrow, Madde Gnauck and Sadie Gnauck; sisters-in-law, Carol Zimmer and Cathy Zimmer; brother-in-law, Gary Zimmer; and parents-in-law, Lew and Sarah Zimmer.  She is preceded in death by her father, Louis Bush. 

The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Kari Sue Ritter, Susie Whittinghill, and all of Chanelle’s friends who made sure she was cared for and comforted to the very end. 

A celebration of Chanelle’s life will take place Saturday, March 2, at the Emerson Cultural Center Ballroom, from 1-3 pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Chanelle’s memory to Windhorse Equine Learning, 

Watch the memorial webcast here: