Skip directly to content

Obituary: Franz August Biehl July 19, 1934 – Jan. 17, 2019

on January 23, 2019 - 9:19am

FRANZ AUGUST BIEHL July 19, 1934 – Jan. 17, 2019

Franz August Biehl was born in Davenport, Iowa, to August and Pauline Biehl, joining his sister Lila.

His father was from Alveslohe, Germany, and his mother was from the Amana Colonies, Iowa so Franz spoke German exclusively until starting school. His father and his friends would sing songs in German and the Plattdeutsch dialect at the local Turner Hall and social gatherings. His mother and her sisters also sang and played the zither. They listened to a wide variety of music on the radio at home and his mother often sang songs from the forties to him. This gave him a lifelong love of music, especially classical and German folk music. Some of his favorite memories of childhood were the many happy weekends and summer days spent at his uncle’s farm where he enjoyed the companionship of his cousins.

As an adult, Franz took an interest in his heritage and genealogy. He interviewed his father and other relatives and wrote narrative histories to share with the rest of the family. He researched the Amana Colonies, pored through old records, and corresponded with those with similar interests. He visited Germany many times and was active in the American/Schleswig-Holstein Heritage Society.

Franz earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University and moved west to Los Angeles to work in the aerospace industry where he enjoyed a fulfilling career, mostly at McDonnell Douglas. He went to night school at the University of Southern California to earn a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Soon after he met Karen and later proposed to her at Sequoia National Park. Their children, Paul and Lisa, soon followed.

In the late seventies he grew tired of the crowds and air pollution in southern California and found a job at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory where he worked on a wide variety of projects. One of his favorite jobs was in the solar energy research group that when, as he was fond of saying, he voted for Ronald Reagan, he voted himself out of a job! After retiring he enjoyed working for HYTEC, Inc. in Los Alamos, where he worked with a group of young engineers who appreciated his experience. After his second retirement, he still enjoyed exercising his engineering knowledge studying wind power and Stirling engines among other things.

Franz was active throughout his life, enjoying running, hiking, swimming, road biking, and mountain biking. In his later years he could be seen out and about White Rock on his red tricycle. Many generations of life guards at Canyon Vista Pool, where he served on the board, will remember Mr. Biehl lane swimming until he was 80 years old. The family went on many camping trips to national parks with their tent trailer and local hikes together. Franz was involved in his children’s activities including Boy Scouts, Indian Princesses, soccer, baseball, softball, and basketball. He also was one of the founding members of the White Rock Senior Center investment club.

The family would like to convey special thanks to Dr. Ziomek, for his care and kindness over 23 years.

In memory of Franz, you can strike up a conversation with a stranger, read a book and learn something new, or get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of our community. There will be a memorial gathering at a later date. In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations to the Los Alamos Visiting Nurse Service who cared for Franz many times, starting at age 69 when he broke his hip mountain biking on the ski hill, through home hospice at age 84.

Franz is survived by his wife Karen Biehl, son Paul Biehl, and daughter Lisa Biehl (Kei Davis) and many loving relatives and friends.