Gerald John Dietzen
February 15, 1944 – March 29, 2019
Gerald John Dietzen 1944-2019
Gerald (Jerry) Dietzen was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 15th 1944 to Jerome and Hilda Dietzen and was their only child. Jerome was a structural iron worker and Hilda worked part-time as a telephone operator for the Illinois Bell Telephone Co. Jerry learned his creativity from dad and thriftiness from mom.
In 1952 the family moved from Chicago to Hammond, Indiana as Jerome followed work. There is a family story that Jerome picked up odd jobs before he settled back into working for Allied Steel as a Structural Inspector. In one such odd job, Jerome worked for a “Business Man” as a limo driver who may or may not have been part of the mob. Jerome decided not to ask too many questions and moved back into steel work. As the family settled in to rural life in Hammond in the early fifties, Jerry attended Thomas A. Edison grade school and later graduated from Hammond Technical-Vocational High School with a love for the Electrical “shop experience.” He and his friends put their knowledge to mostly good use, but were known to occasionally blow something up here and there out of curiosity. Jerry later went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Science from Purdue University in 1967 with academic distinction in Electrical Engineering. While attending Purdue University, he worked as a flower delivery truck driver and recalled that he never knew if the flowers were being taken to a home in memorial or celebration. Jerry’s first job after graduation was with the Northern Indiana Public Service Company as a Field Testing Engineer. He loved working in the substation and power house environment which felt like he was back in the shop from High School, but now was intentionally not trying to blow anything up.
In 1968 Jerry met Edie Simantel, an intern teacher and organist, at Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Hammond. Jerry remembered Edie’s white “hot pants” and she remembered his hot cars while dating. Edie also remembers one of their first dates where Jerry took them mini-golfing and in preparation she put on lots of bug spray that for the balmy Midwest summer evening; when he picked her up for their date, he made a point to complement her on her lovely perfume! There were married in 1970 and later moved to Valparaiso for a time while Edie finished up her Master’s Degree in Education. 1974 brought the blessing of their first son David.
In 1978 the small family relocated to Redmond, Washington where Jerry had accepted work with Puget Power. Their middle son, Jonathan, was born in 1979 and their youngest, Benjamin, was born in 1983. During the next many years, Jerry passed his Washington Professional Engineer’s License and Edie finished a second Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. You are reading that correctly, an Engineer and a Family Therapist somehow managed to raise three boys successfully. His sons remember him as someone who loved tinkering in the garage and could fix just about anything. They also knew that he was a strong supporter of each of them and their individual and unique abilities. The boys have said that Dad could help them with anything, from repairing a dishwasher to matters of the heart, provided they had the patience and 2-3 hours to go through every possible permutation and option in the given situation. They remembered his treasure hunting expeditions at Lake Tapps and their Dad’s great sense of humor.
Jerry ‘retired’ in 2006 and true to form with his love of engineering, accepted a job with the Bonneville Power Administration moving to Vancouver, Washington. In 2018, he retired from federal service. Jerry is remembered as a deep man of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He lived out his faith in quiet ways and finding ways to serve and be generous wherever he could. Jerry is survived by his wife, Edie and sons David, Jonathan (wife Ryah and grandchildren Evie and Cole) and Benjamin.
Celebration of Life
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Family of Christ Lutheran Church
3500 NW 129th St.
Gerald John Dietzen
April 17, 2019
My husband, Loren, played music in the Grant House bar which is where we met both Gerry and Edie. He was sitting alone waiting for Edie to get there and we struck up a conversation. His smile and easy, gentle manner always cheered me up. Edie, Gerry, Loren and I became fast friends. It was with much sorrow that I saw the obituary in the Columbian and was shocked that he had passed on. He always seemed so healthy , vibrant and happy. So very sorry to the Dietzen family for your loss. Gerry was a very special and loving individual who will be missed by so many people. We send you our love, prayers and hugs....
Loren and Terri Schulte
April 4, 2019
When I joined Puget Sound Energy in 2003, Jerry quickly became my go-to mentor. We remained good friends for life, even when he and I both moved on and ended up long distances away from each other. Jerry was always generous with his time and willing to share his knowledge and experience, whether that was technical engineering details or just good solid life advice. At least weekly the two of us would escape from the office and go around the corner to solve some nuanced design issue or debate some grand political philosophy over a Starbucks coffee. Jerry was a class act, an engineer's engineer, and true friend. I will miss him, but I'm sure that he is already happily tinkering away adding diodes and interposing relays to the control circuits of the cosmos!
April 3, 2019
It didn't take long after meeting Gerry at BPA to figure out that we were almost neighbors. I live just east of he and Edie and would often see them sitting either at the Grant House or on their porch when I was out walking. Gerry always had a kind word and good conversation when I saw him. He was always genuinely interested in what you were up to. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Dietzen family.