Music Man and Educator
Gerhardt Walther Riedel, 95, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, at Avalon Health Care in San Andreas of natural causes. He was born on April 30, 1924, in Hankow, China, to Erhard and Carmelia Riedel, where his father worked as a Lutheran missionary, one of the first in China. Gerhardt (“Gary”) was the fifth of eight siblings, and the family moved back to Orange County, Calif., when he was a young teenager.
Gary served in the Merchant Marines as a Second Lieutenant during World War II, in both the Pacific and Atlantic theatres. While in the service he met his wife of 70 years, Mary Elizabeth, at a USO event in Baltimore. Gary and “Libby” had three children, Fritz, Ted and Mark, and raised their kids in Culver City and West Los Angeles. After the war, Gary obtained his music degree at UCLA, and later added a Masters in Education. He taught at Culver City Junior High and High School for over 30 years, specializing in music and art. Gerhardt was the Choir Director at Westwood Hills Congregational Church (in Westwood, Calif.) for the better part of three decades. While at Westwood Hills Congregational Church, he produced an album with Meredith Willson, author of the Music Man. In the mid-1960s, he helped found the University of West Los Angeles, School of Law, with a group of friends and teachers from Culver High. He was one of the law school’s five founders and its first President.
In retirement, he moved to Pismo Beach and Murphys, where he and Libby helped raise a handful of grandchildren and he continued to serve as a church choir director. Gary is survived by his three sons and their wives, Fritz and Georgia, Ted and Monika, Mark and Brigitte, as well as his youngest brother Herbert, seven grandchildren and two and-a-half great-grandchildren.
A graveside memorial service will be held at Buena Vista Cemetery in Murphys, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2019. Donations to the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, to honor his life and wishes, would be appreciated by the family.
A life well-lived.