Alfred Aron Rimm, 89, died on June 28, 2023, leaving a remarkable professional and personal legacy. Born in 1934 to Bess and Ben Rimm, Alfred (also known as Buck) grew up in Atlantic City, NJ where he sold newspapers on the boardwalk, played ball in the streets, and quickly learned to take the path less traveled – which became a theme that was evident throughout his life. Alfred went to college at Rutgers University where he majored in Agriculture and met the love of his life, Sylvia Rimm. Upon graduating, he married Sylvia and launched into graduate school in Dairy Science and Genetics with a two year break to serve as First Lieutenant in the Air Force based in Korea after the Korean War. These years were full of life with two new children 13 months apart and doctoral studies leading to a Ph.D. in Dairy Science and Genetics. Alfred and his family moved 13 times before Alfred found a job in Biostatistics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Here, he developed a career in epidemiology and biostatistics. His work was innovative yet non-traditional and he pursued ideas related to graft-versus-host disease and racial disparities in Medicare access. In the 1970’s, Alfred was very involved in data collection for the new therapy of Bone Marrow Transplantation. He used his statistical skills to participate in the creation of the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research, which is a Milwaukee-based organization that is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. He pioneered ideas related to novel methods in the assessment of obesity, including risk factors that lead to diabetes and heart disease. In 1993, Alfred took a new position as Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University. This role enabled him to continue his research while also leading a talented group of faculty to address contemporary issues in public health. A few themes stood out during his almost 60 year career – Alfred Rimm was intensely curious and loved to read scientific journals, he thought about ideas a bit differently than others, and he absolutely loved numbers and data. He routinely would ask people to guess the number of heart beats the average person had in a lifetime.
Alfred’s personal legacy is colorful and interesting. Together with Sylvia, they had four children, nine grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Alfred conveyed the importance of education to his family at every opportunity. Like many other dads, Alfred played golf and tennis with his sons. But golf and tennis were not enough – he tended to prefer more unusual activities. When the family moved to Wisconsin, he and his family planted 10,000 fir evergreen trees on two farms in Wisconsin. A few years later, he led his family from his small hobby of planting a few apple trees to a full-fledged apple orchard. Together, the family planted 10,000 apple trees, leading to the creation of Apple Bapple Orchard. Alfred had a lot of creative ideas – some brilliant and some at odds with the forces of gravity. He built a pond for his kids where they could swim in the summer and ice skate in the winter – activities that his kids carried into their adult lives. Each year, he created a path through the 100-acre woods so his family could wander and play in a beautiful natural space, which instilled in his family a tremendous appreciation for the natural world. But he also thought that a silo would be a workable solution to a water storage problem leading to an effective trickle irrigation system for the apple orchard. Alas, the silo did not hold water. His family fondly remembers Alfred sailboarding into his 70’s, saluting when driving past a John Deere store, enjoying intense fishing trips some with many fish, some that were just “boat rides”, baling hay with his boys, collecting hobbies (e.g., tropical fish, scuba diving, large-format photography), taking a two-fisted approach to dessert eating, and saying, “none of your business” when asked by a family member at a restaurant, “what will you be ordering from the menu?”
Alfred Rimm will be remembered as a joyfully idiosyncratic person with very creative ideas. Unlike many men in his era, Alfred was tremendously supportive of his wife’s career. He was a terrific mentor to everyone who asked for his support. His actions were principled and showed integrity despite the challenges that were thrown his way.
Alfred is survived by his loving wife, Sylvia Rimm, and his four children and their spouses, Ilonna and Joe, David and Janet, Eric and Allison, and Sara and Larry, his nine grandchildren and their spouses, Miriam and Ben, Ben and Shoshana, Avi, Dan and Jess, Rachel, Hannah and Kate, Isaac, Sam and Davida, and his five great grandchildren, Yoni, Zelly, Danny, Elizabeth, and Jacob. He is predeceased by his parents, Bess and Benjamin Rimm, his brother and sister-in-laws, Sigmund Rimm, Carol Rimm, and Barbara Rimm, and his son-in-law, Alan Rimm-Kaufman.
His departure leaves quite a void. We can honor his memory in both serious and humorous ways. Alfred’s family encourages others to read and learn, ask important questions about the world, enjoy the companionship of family, plant trees, and even to eat some of his favorite candy, such as black licorice, peanut M&Ms, and Dots (but avoid the red ones).
Funeral services will be held Friday, June 30, 2023, 2:00pm at Beth Kehillah Cemetery, Egg Harbor Township. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that donations be made to the Beth Israel - West Temple Synagogue at 14308 Triskett Road, Cleveland, OH 44111-2328 or to the New Jersey Agricultural Experimentation Station at Rutgers University, P.O. Box 193, New Brunswick, NJ 08903; http://give.rutgers.edu/AARimm
Funeral Arrangements are entrusted to Roth-Goldsteins' Memorial Chapel