Hans Peter Huth passed away peacefully on November 4, 2022, in the home he shared with his daughter, Marissa, son-in-law, John and granddaughter, Marlena.
Hans was born in Mayen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany on April 30, 1928, to Josef Huth and Maria (Ollig) Huth. He was the oldest of three children, which included brothers Reinhold and Günter. His later childhood was beset by more than the usual challenges, with his native country in the midst of a war. He survived airstrikes to his town (as did his family), only to find himself conscripted to the army as the war was winding down. As it happened, the war came to an end before he was required to serve.
Post-war Germany offered little opportunity for a college-aged youth, so when a scholarship was offered, Hans jumped at the chance to study abroad at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. There he completed a degree in economics, participated in the college choir, and met his future wife, the sister of two of his college mates. Upon graduating, Hans (or “Peter” as he was known to friends and family in the US) and Mary Ann Sather married in 1952 and their first child, Tricia, was born in 1953. After considering Time Magazine’s top ten list of best places to raise a family, Hans decided to re-locate his young family to Madison, Wisconsin. Two more children, Gary and Marissa, were born there. Soon after, Mary Ann’s mother and siblings followed them.
Once settled in Madison, Hans took a job with Rayovac Battery as an international credit manager. This allowed him to put his love for foreign languages (he spoke five) to practical use. Between Mary Ann’s outgoing personality and Hans’s affability, they readily made friends in Madison. They were active in their church, and spent time with family and friends, sharing potlucks, camping and going to the beach.
In late 1966, still with Rayovac, Hans was transferred to Philadelphia. Four years later, after seeking job opportunities overseas, Hans was hired by Eaton, Yale and Towne (now Eaton Corporation) to establish a company presence in Switzerland. This move afforded the opportunity to reunite with his German family and to introduce them to his American family. While in Switzerland, the Huth family took the opportunity to visit neighboring countries, explore new cultures, and learn some of the local language. After completion of the three-year assignment in Switzerland, Eaton relocated him to its world headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio where Hans finished out his career. Apart from his scholarship award, Hans truly built his way from scratch in the US. He was particularly proud of his American citizenship.
Upon his retirement at age 67, Hans considered moving to one of the widespread locations where his adult children had settled. He chose to move to Phoenix, Arizona, home of Marissa, enticed by the sun and warm weather. Hans became involved with his over-55 community as well as the Lions Club, and quickly developed a wide circle of new friends. He enjoyed his Arizona lifestyle and occasionally was given to good-natured gloating as he sipped coffee on his patio, knowing his midwestern friends and family were digging their way through the snow.
Throughout his life, Hans enjoyed good health and was able to indulge his love of music. Though he had never had a music lesson, he was able play a variety of instruments by ear, particularly the piano. He especially enjoyed classical and folk music including contemporary styles. Some of his favorite times were when son-in-law David (Tricia) would pull out his guitar and lead sing-alongs by the fire. Other pastimes included tracking the stock market, an interest he shared with his son, Gary. Most of all, Hans enjoyed socializing with friends. He was always a touchstone for a good visit, enriched by his facility for engaging, yet relaxed conversation. His wonderful sense of humor included an appreciation for puns, which given his breadth of knowledge of languages, were inevitably clever rather than corny.
A series of falls in his early 90’s, resulting in two broken hips, a broken wrist and a broken leg, ultimately affected his mobility. At the age of 92, Hans accepted his daughter’s and son-in-law’s invitation to move into their home. There he became an avid arm-chair traveler, studying maps and watching travelogs. His son-in-law John was an attentive caregiver, and an exceptional chef to boot. Hans looked forward daily to a hearty breakfast and broadened his taste in evening meals to include a variety of ethnic cuisine.
Hans got to see firsthand two of his grandchildren, Mac and Marlena, graduate from college and from a welding school, respectively, and launch their own careers. He proudly attended Marissa’s graduation when she earned a Master’s degree late in her career. And happily, he was able to deepen connections with his German family through delightful Zoom calls. The entire family, including all five of his grandchildren, gathered in Phoenix to celebrate his 90th birthday. Hans went on to celebrate four more birthdays, and to rejoice in the births of two great-grandchildren. His final day was blessed with one last visit by his two closest friends, Helga and Bob.
Hans is survived by his children Tricia (David Engelken), Gary, and Marissa (John Bonfield); five grandchildren Elani, Jeffrey, Lisa, Mac and Marlena; and two great-grandchildren Elle and Charlotte. In Germany, he is remembered by his brother Günter; nieces and nephews Hans-Peter, Gabi, Joachim, Wolfgang, Cornelia, Andrea, Frank and Marion; sister-in-law, Mathilda; and favorite cousin Marianne.