Robert L. Dietrich
Relatives and friends were saddened by the death of Robert Lee Dietrich, a resident of the Forrest at Duke, an assisted living facility in Durham, in late November.
Before moving to Durham, Mr. Dietrich was a resident of Pinehurst, where he and his beloved wife of 50 years, Carolyn, built their retirement home on Donald Ross Drive. Mr. and Mrs. Dietrich were avid golfers, and for many years were active members of Pinehurst Country Club, the Country Club of North Carolina and Southern Seniors Golf Association.
Mr. Dietrich was born in 1921, the first child of Donald Cline and Elsie McKelvey Dietrich. He spent his youth in Wheeling, W.Va. He graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now called Carnegie-Mellon University) in Pittsburgh as part of an accelerated wartime program in 1942, with a degree in chemical engineering. He excelled academically, and at graduation ranked No. 1 across all of the engineering schools at Carnegie. He spent the war years as part of an engineering development team at Dow Chemical Co., where he was named in wartime patents for engineering improvements that advanced our nation’s ability to rapidly produce the magnesium plate that was critically needed for wartime aircraft production.
After the war, he led a successful career in management across several large chemical and fibers companies. During the 1960s he was named president of Celanese Fibers Co. and later president of Fibers Industries, both located in Charlotte. During the 1970s he served as president of Celanese International in New York City.
He and his wife, Carolyn, retired in 1979 for golf, family activity, travel and community and church life in Pinehurst. They particularly loved overseas travel, and visited all seven continents together. Mr. Dietrich lived in Pinehurst for 22 years before moving to Durham to be closer to his daughter Kimberly in 2002.
His beloved wife of 50 years, Carolyn, was also his childhood neighbor and friend in Wheeling. Their lifelong friendship and “love story” began in their earliest years, when their parents’ backyards were across an alley from each other in Wheeling.
He is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Dorothy and Judson Graab, of Fairview Park, Ohio; his three children, Kimberly Dietrich Martin, of Cary, Donald Dietrich, of Philadelphia, and John Dietrich, of Denver, Colo.; his nephew, Donald Dietrich Graab, of Atlanta, Ga.; his niece, Janet Graab Miller, of New Freedom, Pa.; six grandchildren, Kristin, Andrew, Abigail, Robert (named after his grandfather), Gwendolyn and Stephen; and six great-grandchildren.