I was surprised to see the Hibbing Tribune article reporting that not all members of the school board are in favor of the Dylan Project. As a long-time Hibbing resident who knew Bob Dylan's family, the Zimmermans, I'm writing to share some history and urge that the project be completed.
Abe and Bea Zimmerman were vibrant members of the Hibbing community for many years. Abe owned a furniture store in downtown Hibbing and Bea was a friendly hostess who frequently entertained people at their home with informal coffees. Both were good neighbors who participated in and contributed to events in the neighborhood. All the neighbors were used to Bobby's garage band entertaining us, and Abe and Bea were proud of their boys Bobby and David.
Bobby attended Hibbing High School from third grade through graduation. He was a musician even as a young man, winning awards in talent shows with his unusual musical style. He made a special impression on his English teacher, B. J. Rolfzen, who said Bobby always sat in the front row and was an excellent student. Bobby continued visiting Mr. Rolfzen until his death. B.J., who always called him Robert, said he was one of the best students he ever had.
I've heard people here say "What did Bobby Dylan ever do for Hibbing?" He brought the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hibbing. How amazing is that! Hibbing should be proud of this incredible accomplishment by a high school alumnus. In Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize acceptance speech he praised the education he received in Hibbing: “When I started writing my own songs, ... I had principles and sensibilities and an informed view of the world. And I had had that for a while. Learned it all in grammar school. Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Tale of Two Cities, and all the rest — typical grammar school reading that gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by.”
Other Hibbing alumni have won awards we are proud of; in particular, we often have sports heroes. Now we have an opportunity to recognize another kind of genius, to show our children that it's possible to achieve in many ways. Bobby did it with his words, and the proposed monument honors his words and poetic contributions.
Hibbing, let's not use excuses to delay the tribute to Bob Dylan. This is an opportunity to bring honor to our school, the faculty, and a student body that could produce another world class achievement. Let's move the tribute to the Nobel Prize in Literature to completion.