Johann Friedrich (John “Frits”) Niemoller, formerly of Annville, passed away peacefully on Oct. 15, 2023, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, at the age of 94. He was the husband of Léonie “Lily” Françoise Niemoller, who predeceased him after 65 years of marriage.
Frits was born in Modjokerto in the former Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia, on Aug. 14, 1929, to Dutch parents, the late August Hermann Niemöller and Froukje Titia Jansje Agatha Sindram.
In 1933, Frits and his parents, along with his younger brother, Willem (Wim), moved to the Netherlands, where he was raised. At the time, Europe was in the middle of the Great Depression, and his family faced financial hardships. During World War II, Frits and his family endured Germany’s occupation of the Netherlands, a particularly dark period of his life that had a profound impact on him.
Even though he grew up with limited means, Frits always looked back at his childhood fondly. He was grateful for learning resilience and resourcefulness at a young age, as well as for the love and security provided by his parents. He was tremendously proud of his background and upbringing.
In 1952, he graduated from the Technische Hogeschool te Delft (Technical University of Delft) in the Netherlands with a degree in electrical engineering. He married Lily in 1953, and with two young children, they immigrated in 1956 to the United States, settling in Chicago, Illinois.
Filled with optimism, he enthusiastically started a new chapter of his life and, in due course, became a U.S. citizen in 1964. Throughout his career, he worked on some of the world’s most innovative technologies, which saw him and his family relocate to California, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio. He was most proud of his assignment to work in Paris, France, where he oversaw the French subsidiary of a multinational company for several years.
After raising five children, Frits and Lily eventually retired in Annville, Pennsylvania, in 1990, where they remained active by breeding and raising their beloved Golden Retrievers. Frits also researched his genealogy extensively, meticulously cataloging and documenting the lives of his ancestors, ultimately self-publishing a book that will be passed down to generations of his family.
Frits placed his family in the highest regard, and no role was more important to him than being a father, grandfather (Opa), and great-grandfather. He was always willing to provide guidance and support to anyone in his family whenever they needed it, and his love for them all was unwavering.
Frits will be remembered as a scholar of the world and a gregarious storyteller who could strike up a conversation with anybody. He spoke four languages fluently and could transition effortlessly among all of them. He cherished his relationships with lifelong friends and extended family who were dispersed around the globe. An avid reader who loved to soak up information regarding business, society, philosophy, and history, Frits was always eager to share his vast knowledge with others.
Frits is survived by his children, Robert, of Phoenix, AZ, René (Yolanda), of North Royalton, OH, Paulina (Greg), of Hummelstown, PA, John E. (Jeanne), of Groton, MA, and Catherine (Barrett), of Ridgefield, CT; grandchildren, Ryan, Amy, Manny (Valerie), Emily (Jarrad), Andrew (Megan), Caitlin (Jon), Rachel (Giovanni), John “Jack” F. (Christina), Eric, Tyler, and Abby; and 13 great-grandchildren.
A private celebration of Frits’ life will be held at a later date.
Contributions in Frits’ memory can be made to the Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, Utah 84741-5000, or to a charity of your choice that supports the well-being of animals.