May 10, 1928 - February 1, 2021
Harry C. Niethamer was born in Secaucus, New Jersey on May 10, 1928, to Paul and Elsa, recent German immigrants. Harry grew up happy and fearless under their watchful eye, trying his hardest to fight in World War II as a 17 year-old, only to have his ship turned around in the Atlantic after VJ Day. Harry then met the love of his life, Clara Lilley, and they never looked back. Because they had both been only children, Harry and Clara vowed to have a big family. In the first 6 years of their marriage Harry and Clara had 4 children, even though each birth was cesarean and considered a risk. Fearless. Harry was a textile man. His career started after his father, a plasterer, got sick. Harry had to leave High School to get a job as an apprentice in the embroidery factory across the street from the house in which he was born. Before he was 25, Harry owned the business and produced beautiful Schiffli embroidery on huge Swiss looms for high-end New York City clothing manufacturers. These were golden days for Harry and Clara, living life to the fullest with four adoring grandparents to their four lovely children. Sadly, it was not to last. Three of their parents passed away in three years and the local textile industry stumbled and moved west to California. Harry and Clara decided to move West also. They left all that they had known in New Jersey to start life over with four small children and moved to California. Fearless. California was a good fit for the Niethamers. Harry became manager at several textile plants where he was a strict, but fair and endearing, boss. Several of his former employees still sent him Christmas cards, decades after leaving his employ. Harry and Clara’s children started having their own children. Harry and Clara embraced grandparenting with total love and dedication. No matter what was needed, they were there to help provide emotional, financial and spiritual support. There was nothing like Christmas morning at the home of “Papa” Harry and “Mom-Mom” Clara. Christmases were simply magical. During this time the unthinkable happened, as one of their children, Gary, suddenly died of a heart attack. Clara suffered greatly: Harry more stoically. It was something no parent should have to endure, but Harry was a rock for his crushed family. Fearless. The next 15 years saw both Harry and Clara retire and enjoy international travel together for the first time in their lives. This included a memorable trip to Germany to finally see the hometown of Harry’s German ancestors and to meet his first cousin Franz, and his wife Anne Marie, in 1990. To this day, a strong friendship exists between the two families that had been separated for decades by famine and war, but now reunited in family love that will survive generations. Clara developed a serious illness and passed in March 2000, with her devoted husband of 52 years and her children by her side. Although he was baptized Lutheran, Harry had never been a church going or religious man, yet the way he handled the loss of Clara in his daily life leaves no doubt that Harry had a profound faith he would see her again. He settled into a rhythm of some travel, including going to Europe to visit granddaughter Cynthia, Washington to see grandsons Jeremy and Chad, celebrating events with family, working in his garden, spoiling his pets, listening to operas at full volume, and watching vintage movies. Fearless. In preparation for this 90th birthday, Harry was asked if he could do it all over again, if there was anything he would change in his life, Harry replied: “Not really, I faced every challenge I had to face. Some may not agree with what I did, but I have no regrets”. When asked what the greatest lesson he had learned in life was he said, “I am still waiting for it. I never want to stop learning”. Harry’s legacy is a life of learning, never satisfied with what he knew, always looking for the next book or documentary or scientific discovery, and then sharing it with those around him. He lived his last years in his home, with grandson Casey as his caregiver and companion, sharp witted and kind-hearted as ever. He was truly happy despite his declining health. Fearless. Covid and the isolation it brought was hard for everyone in Harry’s life, but he took it in stride. He did not mind being alone with his thoughts and his music in his recliner. Now, Harry has gone home again to be with Clara, and after being separated 21 years they have lots to talk about. A dear friend had a dream the day before Harry died: she saw Clara sitting at a kitchen table and Harry entering the room as she declared “Harry, what took you so long?” Who’s to say that isn’t exactly what happened? Fearless. Harry is survived by his loving family: Children: Daughter: Susan Niethamer of Downey, California Daughter: Dianne Niethamer Lumsdaine (Husband, Joe) of Downey, California Son: David Niethamer (Wife, Diane) of Menifee, California Grandchildren, Great-Grandchildren, Great Great Grandchildren: of Susan: Cynthia Susanne Niethamer of Rogersville, Missouri (husband Eri) (children Brandon, Andrew, Nathan, Cameron and Kurt) of Dianne: Jodi Lumsdaine Chapin of Downey, California (husband Richard Chapin) (children Phoebe and Lola) Jennifer Lumsdaine of Downey, California (with Niles Guinn) Paul Lumsdaine of Whittier, California (wife Tiffany Kwong) (children Owen and Juniper) Charles “Casey” Lumsdaine of Downey, California of late son Gary: Michelle Niethamer Jordan of Yucaipa, California (husband Tad Jordan) (children Brittany (husband Cole Picchiottino), Brett, and Braelyn) Jon Niethamer of Hemet, California (wife Jill Mullin Niethamer) (children Emma (husband Daniel Witzel) and Cole (fiancé Leslie Ramos) (great great granddaughters Reagan Witzel & Reese Witzel) of David : Jeremy Niethamer of Marysville Washington (wife Jessica Niethamer) (step-children Hailey and Tamryn) Chad Niethamer of Marysville Washington (wife Angie Niethamer) (children Emily and Maci) Amy Niethamer Tuengal of Marysville, Washington Holly Niethamer of Seattle, Washington (husband Joseph Anderson) (children Jeremiah, Justin, Jonnie, Jasmyn) Step Children of David : Candice Coker Gayle of Riverside, California (husband Kadesh Gayle) (children Samantha and Sydney) Stephanie Denham of Long Beach, California (fiancé Jim Diamond) Sean Denham of Corona, California (wife Cindy Duvall Denham) (children Zachary and Chloe) Ryan Denham of Wildomar, California (wife Allie Mendez) (children Charlotte and Kash) Chelsea Herrera (husband Jaime Herrera) (children Adrian and Mia) Pre-deceased members of Harry's Family: Wife: Clara Pearl Lilley Niethamer (Passed away March 22, 2000) Son: Gary Thomas Niethamer (Passed away June 5, 1985) In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Joseph's Indian School https://give.stjo.org or Boy's Town https://www.boystown.org Condolences for the family can be sent through our website. Services for Harry are private, with a Celebration of Life to come in the fall. Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, please contact the family for service information.
Harry C. Niethamer was born in Secaucus, New Jersey on May 10, 1928, to Paul and Elsa, recent German immigrants. Harry grew up happy and fearless under their watchful eye, trying his hardest to fight in World War II as a 17 year-old, only to... View Obituary & Service Information
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