John Thomas Geertsen

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John Thomas Geertsen GlenvilleJohn Thomas Pie Geertsen of Glenville and Hope, NY passed away at 94 from natural causes. Born in Scotia, NY, son of the late Nelson and Beatrice (Yates) Geertsen. John graduated from Scotia High School and then attended Clarkson University. He served for four years as an aviation engineer in the South Pacific Theater until 1945; he worked as a surveyor helping to build forward air bases. John was awarded three battle stars and a Purple Heart. His lively and well-written war memoirs are deposited in the New York Military Museum. He returned from World War II with an honorable discharge. John started his career at General Electric as a technician in the engineering and consulting laboratory; he worked in the GE Research and Development Center in Niskayuna, NY as a research scientist for the remainder of his career. In the research division, among the tasks he performed, was operating the clean room for titanium welding done on the Saturn moon rocket. He was also part of the team build, which was at the time, the world's strongest magnet. John received the unusual honor of being listed as a co-author for a scientific paper during that project. He was recognized many times for contributions that he made to science. He also worked on an electron magnet system developed to run a levitating railway system in Japan. Another project he worked on was a magnetic imaging system to detect and help with cancer treatments. Upon retirement, John, an outdoor enthusiast, would spend many happy days in the Adirondacks at his home property, along the banks of the Sacandaga River in Hope, NY. John, affectionately known as Pie, was predeceased by his wife of 52 years, Lillian (Heffernan) Geertsen. He is survived by his children, Kenneth Geertsen, Joyce (Mike) Smolinsky and Debra (Richard) Hurley; grandchildren, Kirsten Ewing, Eric and Pamela Hurley and Marsha (Danial) Denefrio; great-grandchildren, Victoria and Brooke Ewing, Juliana and Alessandra Denefrio. A funeral service will take place with military honors on Friday at 10 a.m. at Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, Schuylerville, NY. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in John's memory to the East Glenville Fire Company and the Community Hospice in Saratoga. To express online condolences visit


Funeral Home
Griswold Funeral Home
1867 State Street Schenectady, NY 12304
(518) 374-6188
Funeral Home Details
Published in The Daily Gazette Co. on Jan. 1, 2014
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