February 4th, 1938 - March 26th, 2021
Goetz E. Pfafflin of Boulder, CO departed this life at his Boulder home since 2006 on March 26 2021 at the age of 83.
Goetz was born to Karl and Annalise Pfäfflin in Munich, Germany on February 4, 1938. He spent his early childhood during World War 2 in Berlin, then on a large estate in West Prussia, where he entered primary school, Mecklenburg and briefly in Brandenburg, East Germany, before moving to Göttingen county in Lower Saxony (West Germany) in early 1946. At age 11 Goetz transferred to secondary school in the city of Göttingen, Felix Klein Gymnasium, and then in 1955, at age 17, was given the opportunity to move to Newfoundland, Canada, where in 1956 he graduated from Prince of Wales College (a local high-school in Newfoundland’s provincial capital, St. John’s).
Goetz graduated from McGill University with a B.Eng. in mechanical engineering in 1961, and in June of that year started a 21 year career in the field of engineering hydro-power equipment for the Canadian subsidiary of Allis-Chalmers (of Milwaukee, WI) initially in Montreal and from mid-1968 in York, PA, followed by 21 more years as an employee of J.M.Voith GmbH. These 42 years in the hydro-power business, during which he very quickly moved into management positions in York, PA and eventually in Shanghai, China, presented many opportunities for international travel to all continents, and dealings with the highest echelons of electric utilities, engineering firms, and government agencies, including contacts with a number of heads of state. Mega projects like the final expansion of the Grand Coulee Dam in the state of Washington, the binational Argentine and Paraguayan project of Yacyreta on the Parana River, the refurbishment of the turbines at the Aswan High Dam on the Nile in Egypt and the development of the world’s largest hydro-power project, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China were among the highlights of Goetz’s career.
During his time in York, Goetz devoted some of his time to supporting the York-area United Way, for several years worked with Junior Achievement, and served on the Board of the York Hospital.
The crowning highlight of his 42 years in the hydro-power industry was his assignment to China, when he moved from York, PA to Beijing as Chief Representative for Voith Hydro in 1992, which led to his heading up the establishment of a highly successful joint venture company, with a brand new large manufacturing facility in Shanghai, which he managed as its CEO until his retirement. The opportunity to establish a new business, in a totally foreign environment, with a central government and industry modeled after that of the Soviet Union, was a unique challenge. Goetz has often reflected on his enjoyment of training a highly motivated new workforce, and implementing Voith’s core values and indeed U.S. and German business ethics of integrity, customer service, living up to commitments, and the respect of the law.
Following his final retirement from Voith in 2003 Goetz left the world of hydro-power and focused his attention on the establishment and running of the BMW Vintage & Classic Car Club of America, pursuing his passionate interest in vintage cars, and the community of enthusiasts involved with this hobby. Goetz acquired and had restored a number of pre-WW2 and early post-war BMWs, which he entered in rallies and tours across the U.S., Canada and Europe. His responsibility as President of this Club included the issuing of quarterly newsletters, which over time developed into full-color magazines, and extensive inter-action with BMW AG in Germany, BMW NA in the U.S. and Canada, and other BMW clubs in the U.S. and Europe. At the end of 2016 Goetz turned the reigns of the BMW Vintage & Classic Car Club over to his successor, and became an active member of the Club, and participant in some of its rallies and tours.
Apart from his very fulfilling career and his enthusiasm for the world of BMW’s automotive history, Goetz enjoyed hiking, biking, international travel and cooking for his family and friends. He maintained active friendships from his high school years in Germany, his years at McGill University in Montreal, and his career.
Goetz is survived by his two sisters, Ursula and Susanne Pfäfflin, both living in Germany, by his sons Andrew (in York, PA) and Marc (in Brooklyn, NY), and their families, including granddaughters Nicole Wayne, Fiona Pfafflin and Josie Pfafflin, many first cousins in Europe and the Americas, and by his wonderful partner of the last 16 years, Karen Shay in Boulder.