John A. Diehl

January 18, 2015

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Diehl, John Anthony - A True Renaissance Man

Civil Engineer, covered bridge expert, historian, writer, photographer, brother, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, John died on Sunday, January 18, 2015 at the age of 97.

Born on July 27, 1917 in Cincinnati to Agnes Kehm Diehl and Harry Diehl, John grew up at their family home on West Mills Ave. in Wyoming, the eldest of eight children.

A devout Roman Catholic, Diehl graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1935 and received a congressional appointment to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1939.

Shortly after graduating, Diehl pursued his interest in covered bridges and became Chairman of the Ohio Historical Society’s Covered Bridge Committee in 1940. He created a numerical system of cataloging the bridges, called the World Guide to Covered Bridges, and the system is still used around the world.

Diehl met Social Worker, Mary Ringland, and they were married in 1941 after an 18-month courtship. They had five children.

In 1965, Diehl was elected to the Literary Club of Cincinnati, a membership he held for nearly 50 years. He served as Club President, Secretary, and Historian. In 2012, the Club published a book of his papers.

In addition to the Literary Club, Diehl focused his attention on the study, collection and conservation of history. He pursued antique books and artifacts, among other things, as well as Indian arrowheads, stamps, coins, and documents of American and world history.

In 1941, Diehl began writing a journal every day. The practice continued uninterrupted over 73 years, until his death, and provided a valuable daily record not only of his life, but the condition of the world as well.

Mr. Diehl served as President of the Cincinnati Historical Society for 14 years. His efforts were instrumental in saving Cincinnati’s Union Terminal from destruction and transforming it into the Cincinnati Museum Center. He is also past president of the Friends of the Library.

John Diehl is a living testimony to the American Spirit. Industrial, historical and literary, he was a folk culturist in the highest sense, collecting and encoding written history, memorabilia and artifacts for the benefit of future generations.”  (Boorum & Pease, The Ledger, Spring, 1984)

John set up the successful Diehl Heating and Air Conditioning Company, operating from the 1950s to the 1980s. His first wife Mary, died in 1966 after 25 years of marriage. In 1972 he married Jane Brown, a fellow antiques enthusiast. The couple lived in Wyoming until they built a house in Terrace Park, Ohio, and moved there in 1989.

In his 97 years, John Diehl’s achievements, and the lives he touched, are too many to number. He had seven siblings: the late Father Tom Diehl, SJ, the late David Diehl, the late Mary Diehl Volck, Rosalie Diehl Snider, Catherine Diehl Albers, Judy Diehl Saba, and Esther Diehl Tanner. He had five children: the late Julie Diehl Moriarty, Sarah Diehl Fernandez, Susan Diehl Kahn, John Henry Diehl, and Martha Diehl. He had eleven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. In addition, he leaves two step sons, Peter and Hunter Brown, and five step grandchildren.



DIEHL, John A. Husband of the late Mary (nee Ringland) and Jane (nee Brown) Diehl. Father of Sarah Fernandez, Susan Kahn, John Diehl, Martha Diehl and the late Julie Moriarty. Step-father of Hunter and Peter Brown. Also survived by 11 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren and 5 step-grandchildren. Brother of Catherine Albers, Rosalie Snider, Judy Saba, Esther Tanner and the late Fr. Tom Diehl, S.J., David Diehl and Mary Volck. Died suddenly Sunday, January 18, 2015, at the age of 97. Memorial Mass Saturday 11 a.m. at St. Andrew Church, 552 Main St., Milford, OH 45150. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to charity of donor's choice.


Robert W. Hoerst Sr - Jan 25, 2015
I worked for John Diehl back in the late 70's and early 80's. I always thought highly of him. Sorry to hear of his passing. Sounds like he had a wonderful and full life. He will be missed, but his legacy will live on.
John Milam - Jan 24, 2015
I so admired Mr. Diehl so much Lucky to have known him
Susan Widder - Jan 23, 2015
Jim and I met John over 30 years ago, through mutual interests in antiques, beginning with the Ohio Folk Art Association. He constantly amazed us with his depth of knowledge, and his zest for learning. He was always the consumate gentleman, and we will miss him. Our deep condolences to the family.
Mark Maxwell - Jan 23, 2015
On behalf of the Midwest Jesuits, I extend condolences to John Diehl’s family and friends. John was a valued Companion of the Society of Jesus on the journey of faith and service. The Jesuits will continue to remember John daily in their prayers and good works. “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.”
Anne and Skipper Perry - Jan 23, 2015
A wonderful Man, wonderful memories. Thinking of you. Anne and Skipper
Joan Nelson - Jan 22, 2015
Sue &Mike - Was sorry to learn from Anne that your Dad had died. I didn't know him but he sure did a good job in raising you. My deepest sympathy to you & your family. Love, Joan
Dale & Terese Marshall - Jan 21, 2015
Sarah, our sympathy for the loss of your Father. "Memories Last Forever" What is in your heart will always be with you. Take time for yourself and remember the funny times.
Skip Condo - Jan 21, 2015
My deepest sympathy to the entire Diehl Family. Skip Condo Class of 1964, St. James of the Valley