German-American community says goodbye to dedicated member, Ted Hierl

Yardville - Detlef “Ted” A. Hierl, 67, died peacefully on Sunday, May 30, 2010 in Trenton, NJ, surrounded by his loving family after a courageous 4 year battle with cancer. Born December 7, 1942 in Bonn, Germany, he was the youngest son of the late Willibald & Christine Hierl (Sauder).

After Ted completed his schooling and apprenticeship near his hometown Bruehl, he received his Master Certificate for machine building. A few years after immigrating to the USA with his wife and daughter in 1962, a son was born, and the family became US citizens.

Ted’s first job was working for Crossley Machine Company in Trenton. In 1966 he became the plant manager for Coronis Building Systems in Columbus, NJ till his retirement in 2008.  Ted was also a partner in the “Take it Easy Bar & Liquor Store” in Yardville, NJ for several years.

In addition to his professional life, Ted was especially active in the German-American Community in the Delaware Valley. He became the voice of German radio for 36 years performing the two-hour live show each and every Sunday morning.  Ted started broadcasting over WTTM Radio, Trenton, NJ in 1974. During his Christmas Eve specials former Trenton Mayor Arthur Holland usually visited the studio. In 1997 the German Radio program moved to WNWR- AM 1540, Philadelphia, PA and hopefully will continue with the help from his family. From 1982 till 2000 he also broadcast a 2nd German-American Radio program over WJDM, Elizabeth, NJ.

Another event dear to his heart was the German Heritage Festival at the Garden State Arts Center, now known as the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. After attending the 1st festival in 1974, Ted decided to become involved in the event and the German Heritage Council of NJ. At first as Master of Ceremonies, additionally Program Chairman in 1977. He became Program & Vice Chairman in 1979 and was the General & Program Chairman from 1985 to the present, with the last German Heritage Festival being held in 2007 featuring Heino. Over the years, Ted was able to bring some of the best German speaking entertainers to NJ. With the help of the dedicated committee, the festival was well known throughout the Tri-State area and beyond. Attendances up to 15,000 people generated proceeds used to award numerous scholarships each year and support the Garden State Cultural Center Fund in their fundraising.

Over the years Ted also coordinated many various German shows in the tri-state area, mostly during Advent, and cruises with well known German speaking entertainers from overseas. In earlier years he coordinated shows for Trenton Heritage Days, Trenton Parks and the State Fair, sometimes broadcasting live from events. Besides supporting the German-American Steuben Parade in New York and Philadelphia, he was also involved for a few years in the German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain in NY and Action Park in NJ.

Ted was appointed by NJ Governors Kean, Florio, Whitman and McGreevey as a member of the Ethnic Advisory Council.  In 1990 he represented NJ Gov. Jim Florio at the reunification of Germany in Berlin. Through his involvement, Ted met numerous Presidents and Dignitaries, including President Clinton, German Chancellor Kohl,  and Dr. Henry Kissinger.

In recognition of all his efforts to uphold the German traditions in the USA and endeavors to sustain the friendship between the two Countries, Ted was honored with  numerous awards. In 1989, he received “The Federal Republic of Germany Friendship Award” presented by the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2001, Ted was honored by the United German-American Committee of the USA, Inc., at the Council of 1000 Banquet as the “Distinguished German-American of the Year”. German President Richard von Weizaecker awarded Ted with the most prestigious recognition, “Das Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse - Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1st Class” on September 10, 1991.

With his involvements, Ted was made Life Time or Honorary member of many of the German-American Clubs in the Tri State Area.  He was also a Free and Accepted Mason of the Herman-Humbold Lodge, No.125, the oldest German speaking lodge.

Ted had a great passion for traveling, often visiting family in Germany, cruising to Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. His greatest joy was visiting Florida with his grandchildren. All through his life Ted was an avid soccer fan. His other hobbies included bowling, visiting the Metropolitan Opera and swimming.

He is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Mathilde S. Hierl (Erkelenz), daughter Elke C. Born and husband Christian, son Ralph J. Hierl and wife Elizabeth, proud grandfather of Werner Born, Eric & Ryan Hierl, who he enjoyed spending time with, and son-in-law of Anna Jackson.

The youngest of 8 children, he was predeceased by sisters Marie, Hanna and Ernie and brothers Willibald and Heinz.
He is also survived by sister Malie Palmersheim, brother Franz Josef Hierl, several in-laws, many nieces and nephews, including his Godson Horst Hierl, all in Germany.

Instead of flowers, donations should be made in Ted’s memory to the German Heritage Council of NJ for scholarships, the German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA for the museum in Washington, DC  or the Herman-Humboldt Lodge No.125 all in care of PO Box 9855, Trenton, NJ 08650.

Visitation hours are from 2-4pm and 6-9pm on Thursday, June 3, 2010 at Knott Colonial Funeral Home, 2946 South Broad Street, Hamilton, NJ. The funeral mass will be held at 11am on Friday, June 4 at St. Raphael’s Church, 3500 South Broad Street, Hamilton NJ, followed by interment at the Princeton Memorial Park, Robbinsville, NJ.

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