Gerhard G. Thiem, a resident of Los Altos since 2002, passed away on December 31, 2013. Born on September 8, 1919, in Langenbielau, Germany, Gerhard’s entry through Ellis Island in 1922 was almost denied due to malnutrition and rickets. With his parents, the late Gustav and Clara Thiem, he settled in Lawrence, MA, where his brother, the late Walter Thiem of Athol, MA, was born in 1926.
He attended Lawrence public schools through his junior year and completed high school at Philips Academy, in Andover, MA. He graduated from Harvard University with BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering in 1941 and 1942, respectively. During World War II, he designed military aircraft engines in Hartford, CT, and then in Buffalo, NY, where, during a church youth group scavenger hunt, he met Beverly J. Recktenwalt. Gerhard and Beverly wed on November 2, 1946. In 1954, Gerhard relocated his family to West Springfield, MA, for a position with the Hamilton Standard division of United Aircraft (later United Technologies), in Windsor Locks, CT. Except for a short stint with Gilbarco (Exxon), Gerhard stayed with Hamilton Standard until his retirement in 1985. He and Beverly spent much of their retirement traveling with the warm weather in their truck-top camper. They enjoyed many state and federal parks throughout the country and compiled impressive life birding lists. They moved to Los Altos in 2002, and Beverly passed away in 2005.
During the 1980s, the air-conditioning and pressurization in most Boeing and McDonnell Douglas commercial aircraft was provided by the environmental control system (three-wheel machine) that Gerhard designed. In his parenting, Gerhard emphasized the importance of education and was pleased that this value was lived out by his children and has passed to his grandchildren.
He is greatly loved and survived by his daughter, Carol Schembri (Frank), San Mateo, CA; his three sons, Carl (Cindy), De Pere, WI; Curt, Los Altos, CA; and Craig (Susan), De Pere, WI; his grandchildren, Ashley Menning (Sam), Alex, Kate, Logan, Erica, Mike, Christopher, Eric, and Jacob; and his great-granddaughter, Ruby.
A memorial service for Gerhard was held on January 3. Interment followed at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto on January 6. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Pathways Hospice, 585 North Mary Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 or the Los Altos Senior Center, 97 Hillview Avenue, Los Altos, CA 94022.