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Gabe Zimmerman Dad: He Was My Best Friend

TUCSON - The aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who died in last weekend's shooting rampage in Tucson was remembered for bringing his gifts of good cheer and empathy towards others to public service.

On CBS' "The Early Show" this morning Ross Zimmerman described his 30-year-old son Gabe as "the child every parent would love to have."

"The phrase I like to use is, 'My fine, strong son,'" Zimmerman told anchor Chris Wragge. "He was good-natured from the day he was born. He was an amazingly outgoing person, even as a child. It was striking. We liked having him as a son. It was great fun. We did things together.

"He grew up into somebody who, as well as being my son, is very much my best friend. And I keep encountering things where I want to talk to him about something and have to say, 'Oh, gosh, I can't. So what do I do?'

"He loved to work with people. He was cheery. He was outgoing. He was curious. You know, I don't know where to end!"

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Zimmerman, 30, helped organize Giffords' "Congress on Your Corner" event, where the lawmaker met with constituents.

It was at one such event last Saturday that suspected gunman Jared Loughner fired at Giffords and others. Six were killed, including Zimmerman.

Besides his parents and brother, Ben, Gabe also leaves behind a fiancee.

When asked why public service was so important to his son, Ross Zimmerman said, "He comes from a family where we're outgoing people who like to connect with other people. His mom, Emily, headed the social services department for the city of Tucson. I honestly like people and have a rapport with people and like learning about them.

"Gabe just always connected with people. He majored in sociology in college. But then when he got back here, he ended up working with disturbed children, and then going to the ASU School of Social Work.

"And at the end of that, when Gabrielle wanted to campaign for office, he wanted to also convert interest in helping people to positive good. It seemed like a natural fit. She was a wonderful person, has stood for the kind of things that he liked. He worked on her campaign, and then was asked to join her district office staff."

Ross Zimmerman said one of the things he will be doing is helping people remember Gabe - "frankly, for the rest of my life."

For more info:
•  ASU School of Social Work - Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Fund