Walter Niehoff

Obituary of Walter H Niehoff

"Life is like a long movie. You don't know the ending until it comes." These are the words that Walt wrote near the end of his memoir, completed in 2015. The ending, for Walt, came on August 16, 2021, when he died in his home at the age of 83. Born in 1938 in Palmerton, a borough of about 5,000 in Carbon County, PA, Walt grew up in the Lehighton area. He always wanted to be an engineer and, even at a very young age, enjoyed performing experiments in his home. His parents thought he was possessed. He was – with talent and intellect that eventually brought him to Penn State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and a Master of Science degree in engineering mechanics. He later joined IBM Endicott in 1960 as a technical writer and retired in 1991 as a Senior Engineer Manager. He had a long life, filled with many wonderful accomplishments. His "golden years," the first 10 years after retirement, were especially active and full. In February 1991, he was accepted into the Master Gardener Program run by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, and officially became a Master Gardener in 1993, volunteering many hours of work at Cutler Gardens. For a time, beginning in June 1992, Walt also worked at the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at SUNY Binghamton in the IEEC (Integrated Electronics Engineering Center). A man of honor and integrity, family responsibilities were important to him. After his father died in August 1991, he devoted many years looking after his mother through frequent visits to Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk), PA, to see to her needs. It was during these visits that he became involved with the Switch Back Gravity Railroad. Eventually, he would build a model of the Switch Back, completed in 1995, which to this day still resides in the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center in Jim Thorpe. Later that year, Walt self-published a book, The Reincarnation of the Switch Back Gravity Railroad. These are just a few of Walt's many accomplishments throughout his life. Due to health problems that began in 2001, Walt would eventually have to slow down. In recent years, his disabilities confined him to a wheelchair full time. But he continued to keep his mind active, working on numerous projects on his computer at home, reading, studying, doing his utmost to continue to participate in life as fully as possible. Unfortunately, even these activities became too difficult for him during the last year of his life. He was forced to give up the struggle to continue, and we pray to God that he is now at peace. Funeral services at Coleman and Daniels will be private.
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