January 18, 2015
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.