Harry C. Thoben, who peacefully concluded his full life at age 95 on May 3, 2014, liked to say, "life is long and a lot of stuff happens" – for him, it was true. He was born the fourth of six children to Catherine Stevens and Henry Thoben in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. |
He grew up to become the first person to earn two engineering degrees in five years from Ohio State and participated in early space launches at Cape Canaveral.
A major in the army during WWII, he met his first wife, Helen Arthur, at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. In the 1960's, with daughters Patricia, Barbara and Martha, they left Maryland for California and a job at Aerospace Corporation. Harry built his sixth of eleven homes in Palos Verdes, CA.
He lost Helen to leukemia. In 1973 he married Sally Downey, the widow of a colleague who he reconnected with on Aerospace's bowling team. Sally's seven children, who called him "Har", made Harry's second chance in the "wife department" even happier. He loved his big family and being a part of "the mob." Harry and Sally settled in Rancho Bernardo, CA. They belonged to two dance clubs and Harry enjoyed dancing with "his girls" at every big event. On an Alaskan cruise to celebrate his 80th birthday he was everyone's first choice as a partner. He was fearless in old age – taking pride in getting in the ocean on yearly trips to Cape May, NJ, in his 90's – and, without question, the handsomest grandfather around. He was a boat builder, wood worker, stained glass hobbyist, avid bowler and golfer, and a great appreciator of his wife's excellent cooking.
Harry was loved and is survived by his wife of 41 years, Sally Thoben; brother, Bob Thoben of Santa Fe, New Mexico; daughters, Pat (Gary) Gerbracht Hawke of Fairfax, VA; Barbara (Ty) Kittle of Chico, CA, Martha (Chris) Ritchie of San Francisco, CA; step-children, Tom (Sue) Turnbull of Flagstaff, AZ, Jeff (Bev) Turnbull of Encinitas, CA, Betsy Gepford of Riverside, CA, Sally (Steve) Angus of Cardiff, CA, Susan (Dave) Hasenpflug of Sequim, WA, and Nancy Towne (David) of Del Mar, CA; 18 grandchildren; and 26 great-grandchildren.
Services will be held May 30, 2014, at 1pm at San Rafael Catholic Church in Rancho Bernardo.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at www.lls.org or
Published in the Pomerado News on May 22, 2014