Tag Archives: Gretchen Ream Hess

Biography of Dr. Robert Lawrence Hess 1924-2017

Dr. Robert Lawrence Hess

Dr. Hess was born i n New Jersey in 1924 and moved with his father, mother and brother to the family homestead in Berrien County, Michigan in 1930. The homestead was purchased from the local Indian tribes in the early 1800’s and then registered with the Michigan Territorial Government. He attended a rural , 2-room school for his first 8 grades and graduated from Benton Harbor High School i n 1942.

While in High School, Dr. Hess enlisted  in the U. S. Navy’s officer training program, V-12. Assigned to the University of Michigan, he received two B.S.E. degrees from the Engineering College in 1945 and was assigned to the Midshipman program at Columbia
University. He was commissioned as Ensign in October 1945 and married his fiance, Gretchen Lois Ream, in Bethlehem Church, Ann Arbor in December 1945. He served as junior division officer, main engines division , on a heavy cruiser at sea and later as division officer on a pair of light escort carriers. Upon release from active World War II  service he returned to Ann Arbor, the home of his wife.

Subsequently he was hired by the Dean of the Engineering College at Michigan as a full time Instructor  and asked to undertake a research project which became the basis of his Doctoral Thesis. “The Dynamics o f Ship’s Structures, including Shear Deformations”.
This work became the first major engineering work to be programmed for the ENIAC,  (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer was the world’s first general-purpose computer. ENIAC was designed and built for the United States Army to calculate artillery firing tables.) that being done by the David Taylor Model Basin, Dept. of the Navy, Washington D.C. During the three years of full time teaching as an Instructor , he served in the U.S. Naval Ready Reserve and spent his training periods at the Model Basin. He was honored by being requested to provide 40 hours of lectures at the Model Basin on advanced mathematics and dynamics for the scientific staff of the U.S. Navy when he was 24 years old.

Hess was recruited by the Bell Telephone Laboratories (BTL) and joined BTL, upon completion of  his doctorate, as a Member of the Technical Staff  in the fall of 1949, being assigned to a ‘heavy-tube’ Development Group. The many research projects he led there included the development o f the pilot line for the production of both the material for and the devices known as ‘point-contact’ , type A transistors. This was before the courts ordered BTL to place the technology on the market and was thus a unique endeavor for Dr. Hess upon which several of the newly licensed companies partly based their developments. It was typical of him to have the breadth of both interest and scientific knowledge that brought him such a coveted assignment and also success in it. He developed new techniques of crystal growing and zone-purifying as well as a novel method of doping the contact area using microwave techniques to create photo – sensitive transistors.

In his third year at BTL, the Dean of Engineering at Michigan called him with an unsolicited invitation to return to the U. of M. as an Assistant Professor, of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and to also take on a Phoenix Project dealing with the atomic structure of glass and ceramics. In 1955 he was
promoted to Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics. He undertook the reactivation of the Engineering Mechanics Department’s Photo-Elasticity Lab. and generated a course for it as well as teaching in the areas of elasticity and dynamics.

In 1957, the University’s Vice President and Dean of Faculties asked Prof. Hess to join an elite committee of engineers and scientists to oversee the work of the Willow Run  Laboratories f o r the Department of the Army. In 1958 Hess was requested to take leave of his teaching and consulting practice and join a management team to direct the Willow Run Laboratories . Hess was given the assignment of Technical  Director o f  Project Michigan, a multi-million dollar a year program , as well as Assistant Directorship of Willow Run Laboratories. He also became the Head of the Applied Research Group of the Labs, which at that time had just demonstrated the MASER and a year later the demonstration of the Ruby LASER. Hess was instrumental in extending optical data processing to the field of automatic photo interpretation. This was of special importance since the surveillance devices developed by Project Michigan were then beginning to assume the prime role of  the national satellite surveillance system. In 1958, he was promoted to a full professorship, a promotion which was said to make Hess the youngest full professor in the college’s history at that time.

Prof. Hess had a keen ability to manage multiple teams of researchers on topics varying from information processing, semiconductor development, infrared scanning and synthetic antenna radar. He was able to apply his knowledge of  basic physics and
mathematics to these subjects both as a member of the research teams and also represented them to general officers representing the U. S. Army, and, upon the creation of a Department of Defense to the scientific part of that community. In his unique fashion and with unusual modesty, his term of management, which after three years included the project directorship as well as its technical direction, Hess always put his staff in the foreground and sacrificed personal fame in the process. Upon his decision to return to teaching, the Department of the Army awarded Prof. Hess with THE OUTSTANDING
CIVILIAN SERVICE AWARD and MEDAL the inscription of which read in part ‘”Hess succeeded  in establishing and maintaining the University of Michigan as the leading free world authority in surveillance technology. His own proven scientific talent and professional imagination contributed additionally to the accomplishments of a
broad team of scientists and technicians. The rare combination of skill , foresight and devotion to country…”

During 1964 and 1965, Hess also served as the personal representative of the U.S. Army’s Assist. Chief of Staff for Intelligence and led teams of scientists through a comprehensive field review of the Army’s Combat Surveillance  capabilities both in Europe and in Korea.

In  1965 Hess left the Project Michigan assignment and returned to full-time teaching.
President Hatcher offered Hess the challenge of using a $10 million gift from the automobile industry to create the Highway Safety Research Institute. This was a special honor as that gift was reported to have been the largest gift in the University’s history at that time. Hess was able to devote his attention to building the staff and its research programs and also to continue teaching which was his first love. With the cooperation of dozens of the University’s top faculty, Hess was able in a few years to build a facility, hire internationally known figures and to create a program of research spanning fields from Law to Medicine and from Engineering to Psychology. His untiring drive established the Institute as the world premiere institution of its kind and brought not only many millions of research dollars for the support of researchers, faculty, and graduate students but also enhanced the reputation of the University of Michigan. During his tenure at
H.S.R.I., Hess served as a consultant to the Army’ Science Board where he both chaired and participated in the study of many of the nation’s outstanding technical problems and challenges.

Professor Hess personally undertook major research studies while teaching a nearly full load and directing the H.S.R.I. These included a complete review of the research in the scientific, engineering and medical communities of the experimentation protocols in the
area of blunt trauma to the human head and blunt trauma to the thorax. In each case an annotated history of the development and use of the knowledge in research and regulation was made as well as recommendations for future research in the fields. The second area of these studies was selected for publication in the S.A.E. transactions.

Hess also served his university by membership on President Nixon’s Highway Safety Advisory Committee and through several overseas assignments as a Consultant to the World Health Organization. He served his church, Bethlehem United Church of Christ in several capacities including two terms as President. He also was Chairman of the Building Committee which brought about a remodeling of the sanctuary and the addition of a major office / educational wing in 1966.

Prof. Hess resigned his position as Director of U.M.T.R.I., (the successor to H.S.R.I.) and returned to a full time faculty teaching role i n 1984. He founded a computer software company, HCCI, which dealt in the forensic engineering specialty software for an international audience in the forensic engineering area. He undertook the teaching of the senior level Control Systems course with vigor and provided new leadership in its laboratory and course work with several software packages that he wrote to enhance the depth and breath of the educational  experience of the students. These include programs dealing with Fourier techniques, general integration methods, data plotting, frequency analysis, root locus, Nyquist techniques, Myklestad and Holzer techniques, matrix interaction techniques, eigenvalue/eigenvector techniques and many others. He also served as the Mechanical Engineering Program Advisor for over 600 students and wrote degree-audit software packages used by the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics department. The implementation of modern techniques allowed Professor Hess, as the Advisor, to take a proactive rather than a reactive role in counseling.

Professor Hess’s academic and s service accomplishments were outstanding. The respect that he gained from his peers is only reflective of the credit he had given to them over a total of 37 years of devoted service to the University.  In the Pentagon, corporate offices, the classroom and laboratory he represented the best the University of Michigan could offer its students and country.

In addition to many academic and service honors Dr. Hess i s also recognized by a bronze bust in the lobby of the Institute he founded. He retired from the University in 1991.

Amelia Wisthoff Grayer 1861-1955. My Great Grandma Grayer.

A family story of my Great Grandmother – Amelia Wisthoff Grayer 1861 – 1955

There she was in 1871, a child of only 10 years old, and on her way to America. Amelia Wisthoff was leaving Prussia while her family was staying briefly behind. A wealthy family would take Amelia with them so she could serve as a play-mate companion to their daughter. From my understanding, this family was kind and generous to Amelia and allowed her to be tutored with their own daughter. I have been unable to locate any ship records with her name nor do I know the name of the family that provided her passage. I took a few hand written notes when I was young and talking with my mother about our family history. I was told that Amelia had come to America on a steam vessel. In fact, the only verification that I have for this whole story is from my mother’s recounting and the fact that Amelia’s arrival in America did occur before the rest of her family.

It was not until 1906, that America required daughters and wives to appeal for citizenship. They previously only carried the status of their father or husband. Of course, Amelia did arrive many years prior to 1906 making it more difficult to research her arrival. There is no packet of information about citizenship, because it was never required and would not have been possible for a woman to complete.

The only way to figure out or try to verify Amelia’s date of immigration is from the US census records. In census records of 1880 and 1900, Amelia lists her place of birth as Prussia.  By the time of the 1910 census she lists her place of birth as Germany rather than Prussia. This is easy to historically explain as the borders were changing often. My mother told me that she came from a place near Berlin.

Here is a map from Prussia in 1871: (source is lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical)

The subject of this story, Amelia Wisthoff Grayer, was my maternal great grandmother. I was one year old at the time of her death in 1955. I am fortunate to have photographs of her and my great grandfather, August Grayer.

August and Amelia Grayer portrait

I am also fortunate to have photographs of myself with my great grandmother.

Linda Claire in Grandma Grayer's lap

For the rest of this story, I will refer to Amelia as “Grandma Grayer” for that is what our family called this strong and lovely woman who lived a long full life. My mother would be close to her grandmother, would spend much of her childhood having her girlhood home opened to have her grandmother live in and even sharing a bedroom with Grandma Grayer.

Gretchen Ream Hess with her Grandmother Amelia Grayer

In her adult life, Grandma Grayer spent much of her time doing amazing crocheting and tatting.  My sister, Mary Ann, carries on the tradition of advanced crochet skills and has made heirloom blankets, snow flake art pieces, and lovely hats – all with a great sense of color and style. It is nice to know this tradition carries on in our family- a special type of legacy.

Grandma Grayer crocething

But, now, back to 1871. Grandma Grayer had started the voyage to the U.S.A. as a 10 year old. The destination would eventually lead her to Ann Arbor, MI. Ann Arbor had a large German settlement. It seems that about 75% of the Germans who came to Washtenaw County were from Württemberg. My mother had told me that she had come from a place near to Berlin. I do not have any documents that support her German city of origin.

Grandma Grayer’s parents would follow Amelia within a year, arriving stateside in 1872.  My family called her parents (my great great grandparents) “Grandfather Wisthoff” and “Little Grandma”. They were William Wisthoff and Ernestine (or Ernestina) Nevroth. We also have family photographs of these great great grandparents.

William and Ernestine Wisthoff

Grandmother Grayer was one of 4 girls and had 3 younger sisters.

The 2nd in the birth order of the girls and Grandma Grayer’s sister was Hulda Grayer. At the age of 19, Hulda married Adolph Kern in Washtenaw County. In the 1910 census, Hulda and Adolph live at 717 N. Main Street. Adolph worked in a flouring mill as a miller. Hulda stayed at home and worked as a seamstress. Huldah’s 1927 death certificate gives her address as 926 Catherine Street, Ann Arbor.

Hulda kern death certificate

The 3rd sister in the birth order was Emma Grayer who arrived in America at the age of 5.  Emma would marry Fred William Ehrenberg who was a blacksmith and owned his own shop. They lived at 170 Pontiac Road, Salem Township, MI. Emma died in 1936 when my mother was only 11 years old. I do have a copy of her death certificate that states she died from apoplexy with a contributing factor of high blood pressure.

Emma Ehrenberg death certificate

The youngest of the girls was A. Ernestina Grayer. She would marry William Carl Scherdt.  William was a woodworker who worked at Ann Arbor Machine Company. In a government form he completed he states that he is unable to serve in the service because he lost his right leg to his knee. He also states that they reside at 302 N. Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI.

William carl Scherdt draft registration

Now, let’s travel 5 years forward from Grandma Grayer’s arrival in the states. The next part of the story seems VERY strange from our 2018 perspective, but was more common in 1877.  You see, Grandma Grayer was only 15 years old on February 1st, 1877, when she married August Grayer who was 28 years old.

 

They had their first son Herman Grayer (my great uncle) on October 29, 1877. At the time of Herman’s birth, Grandma Grayer was only 16 years old!

Herman Grayer portrait

The wedding records for Grandma Grayer and August Grayer list his name as August Frederick Kreuger. My mother told me a story about the Kreuger/ Grayer name story, but I was very young and do not recall all of the details. I do remember that there was some sort of divide and conflict in the Kreuger family and some of the folks including my great grandfather changed their last name to Grayer. I am so lucky that I took notes of this discussion. It is funny for me to look at my hand-writing.  I recognize it as my junior high/high school penmanship.

Linda handwritten notes on Grayer name

I do not know if Grandma Grayer’s marriage was arranged. August was known to be a hard working farmer. He spent most of his time farming in Scio Township, MI but retired 8 years prior to his death and then lived at 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI. This is more exact information on his place of birth: Hammer-Sandkrug, Posen Province, Prussia. He arrived in America when he was approximately 15 years old.

In 1879, Grandma Grayer was 17 years old. She had a new sister born the same year that she gave birth to her second child, a girl. Grandma Grayer’s second child was Whilimina L. “Minnie” Grayer was born on 23 April 1879. This was our “Aunt Minnie.” She married Frederick Gross. He was a merchant and first operated a store at 115 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI and then at 309 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI.

Minnie Grayer Gross portrait.jpg

In the 1880 census, records indicate that Grandma Grayer and her husband August Grayer are living with their son Herman, and their daughter “Louise” (I believe that Louise is Great Aunt Minnie’s second name.)  August’s 23 year old brother Fred Grayer is also living with them at the time of the census.  (note: they also lived just 2 houses away from Grandma Grayer’s parents- The Wisthoff’s.) Some of Grandma Grayer’s sisters are younger than her own son Herman Grayer!

In 1880, there was a U.S. census taken. August is now 34 years old, and Grandma Grayer is 21 years old. August’s occupation was as a farmer and he states that his birth place and the birth place of his parents was Prussia. Grandma Grayer also lists her birth place and her parent’s birth place as Prussia. In this census year, Grandma Grayer’s father, William Wisthoff, was only 46. (Remember that Grandma Grayer was considerably younger than her husband which explains why William and August’s ages are so close together.)

Sometime after the census report was taken, Grandma Grayer had her 3rd child in 1880. This was her daughter Huldah Amelia Grayer born 26 November 1880 in Scio Township, Washtenaw County, MI. Huldah was obviously given her name as a namesake to Grandmother Grayer’s sister Huldah. This newest daughter of Grandma Grayer’s is our “Aunt Hud.”

4 Generations with Ernestine Nevroth Wisthoff

The fashion of re-naming seems to run strongly in our family.  Grandma Grayer herself was an Amelia (originally Emilie) and then named her daughter, my grandmother, Amelia (this was Grandma Pet.) I named my daughter Amy, a derivative of the name Amelia, and a name that is so beautiful to me and means, dearly loved, or beloved.

In 1882, Grandma Grayer was only 21 years old. She had her 4th child at this time, a son, Ernest August Grayer, born on 22 October 1882. Ernest would later move out of state to Washington. He married Tessie Viola Nienkirk. For some funny reason, I remember my mother saying these words as I scribbled them on a back of a photograph of him, “He left, and never came back.”

Herman and Ernest Grayer.jpg

On 14 September 1885, Grandma Grayer gave birth to my “Grandmother Pet” who was Amelia Grayer. This was a truly beloved Grandmother. When I became a grandmother myself in 2012, I asked to be also called “Grandma Pet” as a tribute to this woman who was for me a form of truest love. I will write a blog on my Grandmother soon. She married Grover Cleveland Ream, a carpenter, in Ann Arbor.

portrait of young Amelia Augusta Ream

In 1888, Grandma Grayer had a daughter Adelaide Amanda Grayer. She would marry Frederick Miller.

In 1897, Grandma Grayer’s father, William Wisthoff, died of consumption.

The youngest of Grandma Grayer’s children was “Aunt Babe.” This was Helen Mae Grayer born on May 20, 1890. She married Walter Mayer.

Helen Mae Grayer portrait young.jpg

In the census of 1900, we see that Grandma Grayer confirms her entry date from Prussia as 1871.  Her husband, August Grayer, who was by then a naturalized citizen, had immigrated in here in 1864.  Because he is a citizen she would automatically have had that status also.  August came from Hammer-Sandkrug, Posen Province, Prussia.

August Grayer certificate of citizenship

In 1908, there is a posting in the newspaper for the sale of August and Grandma Grayer’s 63 acre farm, 5 miles north of Ann Arbor.

for sale by August Grayer

By the census year 1910 under the name Wisthoff, we see that Grandma Grayer’s mother “Little Grandma” Ernestine Nevroth Wisthoff had stated that she immigrated in 1872 which is a year after Grandma Grayer arrived here in the states. This census also shows that Ernestine (Grandma Grayer’s mother) is living in Ann Arbor at 602 Goth Street (probably Gott Street that was misspelled).  “Little Grandma” is living there with Grandma Grayer’s sister, A. Ernestine Grayer Scherdt and her son-in-law, William Carl Scherdt. “Little Grandma” lists her occupation as nurse. Her son-in-law, William’s occupation is ladder maker.

I also remember that my Grandma Grayer was a nurse. I think at this time in history, it might have been a learned skill rather than something obtained by years of education. Her mother was a nurse, and she might well have studied under her mother.

Also in the 1910 census, the birth location for Grandma Grayer and August Grayer has changed from Prussia to Germany. Grandma Grayer is now 49 years old and August is 61 years old.

In May of 1912, the paper announces that August Grayer and Grandma Grayer’s new home is almost ready to be moved in to. This will be the house at 404 N. Ashley, Ann Arbor, MI.

home almost completed August Grayer.jpg

1917 must have been a very difficult year for Grandma Grayer. In July of that year, her mother (“Little Grandma”) passed away and then one month later in August, her husband August Grayer passed away too. By now Grandma Grayer is already 55 years of age.

August Grayer death notice

Grandma Grayer re-married in 1920 and the marriage was brief, lasting only a few years. I believe it ended in divorce. She married Edward Osiander. He was employed at the time as a foreman at the Hoover Ball Plant. He had a previous divorce from a wife also named Amelia. My mother said this marriage was not talked about much in her presence.

Amelia Grayer weds Osiander

In 1930, Grandma Grayer is living as the head of household at 404 N. Ashley and has 2 boarders. By this time, my mother, Gretchen Ream, who was a girl of 5 in 1930 was living at 520 N. Main Street, only a short walk to see her grandmother! My mother would lose her father in 1931. I do not know at what point Grandma Grayer came to live with Grandma Pet, my mother Gretchen Hess and my uncle Robert Ream on North Main Street, but my mother often recounted living with her Grandmother from childhood thru young adulthood. My guess is that she moved to North Main after Grover’s death, although it does look like she spent some time also at Uncle Herman’s house- just a block or so away.

The home on 520 N. Main was a house for lodgers. This was the livelihood of Grandma Pet (Amelia Grayer Ream.) The house was only a short walk to the downtown district and the University of Michigan.

Tourist rooms at 520 N. Main Street

Although Grandma Grayer lost part of her vision as she aged, I believe that at her time of death at age 93, she was living a full life. Photos of her at this age still show her with a crochet project in her hands.

Grandma Grayer's obit

 

 

Here are some of the addresses I have traced from Ann Arbor city directories for Grandma Grayer:

1910 Grayer, August (Amelia), lab, res. 400 Ashley N., Ann Arbor, MI – (So, just guessing that the lab means they are probably leasing this house. The home they were building at 404 N. Ashley, Ann Arbor, MI was not ready until 1912.)

1911 Grayer, August (Amelia), lab George Bischoff, res. 400 Ashley N., Ann Arbor, MI

1914 Grayer, August (Amelia), fireman George Bischoff, res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1916 Grayer, August F. (Amelia) res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1918 Grayer, Amelia (wid. August) res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1920 Grayer, Amelia (wid. August) res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1923 Osiander, Edward (Amelia) h. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1927 Grayer, Amelia (wid. August) res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI (Mom was only 2 years old. N. Ashley Street was an easy few blocks from where Mom lived on N. Main.)

1938 Grayer, Amelia L. res. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI (so this means she is living in Uncle Herman’s home)

1939 Grayer, Amelia L. (wid. August) 520 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI MI (so this means she is living in Grandma Pet’s home)

1945 Grayer, Amelia L. (wid. August) 520 N. Main, Ann Arbor,

 

 

Children of Grandma Grayer residences:

Herman:

1910 Grayer, Herman W. (Dell), steamfitter U of M, res. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI

1911 Grayer, Herman W. (Dell), fireman U of M, res. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI

1916 Grayer, Herman W. (Dell) h. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI – engineer

1927, Grayer, Herman W. (Luella D.) 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI – power plant at U. of M.

1938 Grayer, Herman (Luella D.) 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI – eng., U of M building and grounds dept.

1939 Grayer, Herman (Luella) h. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI

1945 Grayer, Herman (Luella) h. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI – eng. U of M

 

Minnie:

1904 Gross, Frederick W. (Minnie L.) clerk Jacob Lutz, Ren. 320 E. Madison

1937 Gross, Fred W. (Minnie L.) Fine tailoring, Woolens Direct from the looms, tested by the Better Business Bureau 401 First National Building, h 102 Crest, Ann Arbor, MI

Hulda:

1900 Grayer, Huldah, domestic 331 E. Liberty

1906 from a Detroit Directory– Grayer, Huldah, machine operator, rooms at 75 Church, Detroit, MI

 

Helen:

1910 Grayer, Helen, seamstress for Mack & Co., bds. at 400 Ashley North, Ann Arbor. (So this is the same house # and street name as Grandma Grayer’s- see above)

1911 Grayer, Helen, seamstress for Mack & Co., bds. at 400 Ashley North, Ann Arbor.

 

Grandma Pet (Amelia):

1900 (from the census records) There is a notation that Ernest Grayer (age 18) and Amelia Grayer (Grandma Pet, age 14) are living with Foster and Martha Brown in Ann Arbor Township. Ernest is a farmhand and Amelia (Grandma Pet) is a domestic.

1904 Grayer, Amelia, domestic, 509 E. Jefferson, Ann Arbor, MI

1906 Grayer, Amelia, 212 12th Ann Arbor, MI

1910 Grayer, Amelia, domestic 314 Huron E., Ann Arbor, MI

1911 Grayer, Amelia, domestic 314 Huron E., Ann Arbor, MI

1923 Ream, Grover C. (Amelia A.) contractor, 520 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI h same

1924 Ream, Grover C. (Amelia) contractor carpenter, 520 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1930 Ream, Grover (Amelia A.) building contractor, 547 S. 4th Ave. h do

 

For more photos of the Grayer and Ream family…visit my Google photo album: https://goo.gl/photos/NzDjP4obCYqhURhS6

Grandma Grayer with 4 of her daughters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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