Wednesday, June 27, 2007

QUERY: Richard B. Geyer, born 1843

Here is an email query I received (unfortunately, I was not able to be of any help):

I am Carl Richard Geyer and can go back to my Great-Grandfather Richard B. Geyer, born in 1843 and fought as a 20 year old Sargent at Gettysburg in the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer regt. He lived in Allegheny Landing or City. He is in the 1860 census as a 17 year old with $7K property, and his mother (32 year old) Elizabeth also has $7K in property. He lists his birthplace as Maryland, although living in a suburb of Pittsburgh. Sometimes he lists his father as being from Md. or in the 1900 census he says his father was German and his mother English born. My grandfather was born Bowman Sweitzer Geyer in 1883 but after 1900 when he played pro baseball he was Jacob Bowman Geyer. I have always heard our roots are from Bayern or Baden. I have not been able to find Richard B Geyer in the 1850 census, so don't know if he came to America after 1850 or where he was really born. I thought possibly he was a nephew of Henry Geyer who was born in Frederick, Maryland, in 1790. Any info would be
appreciated. Thanks.

The Bowmans were Dutch and came to America about 1700 and the Sweitzers were Swiss and may have come to Doylestown, Pa about 1705. Thanks, Rick Geyer

If you have any information or can offer any help or advice to Rick, you can contact him at the following email address: RGeyerWINE [at] aol [dot] com

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers of Mine: Frank R. Geyer

This is the fourth (and for now, final) of a series on the men who make up my paternal line, the first was about my father Harlan Martin Geyer Jr, the second was about my grandfather Harlan Martin Geyer Sr, and the third was about my great grandfather Francis Grant Geyer.


Frank Geyer

Frank Geyer was born Franz Freund on April 16, 1862 in the village of Johannesburg, near Ashaffenberg, Germany. His mother was Maria Anna Freund and his father is not listed in the baptismal record. It is noted on the record that Frank (Franz) was adopted by Vitus Geier upon his marriage to Maria Anna Freund when Frank was two years old. It is possible that Vitus was Frank's father and he and Maria didn't have the money to marry, but the fact that he isn't listed in the baptismal record as the father does cast doubt upon that. It's not known whether Frank knew of his questionable parentage, but there was no rumor of it among his descendents and it came as quite a surprise when we found out about it in a search of the Catholic archives in Würzburg.

Frank's marriage certificate lists his parents as Victova (or Victoria) Geyer and Anna M. Freund. His mother's maiden name was also spelled "Fruiend" by family members, but the proper German spelling would be "Freund". All that is known by us about Vitus Geier is that he worked in a beer brewery and was later killed when he was run over by a beer wagon.  After Maria Anna passed away, the story passed down to us is that Vitus remarried and had more children, but no further record of the Geier family was found in the Johannesberg area.  There are no Geiers living in the area now, either.

Frank's mother died in 1867, when he was five years old. On September 23, 1876, at the age of 14, Frank left his father, sister Elisabeth, step-mother and five half-brothers in Germany to sail to the US with his uncle Josef (later Joseph) Freund. The family is listed as arriving in New York on October 6, 1876 on the ship Main from Bremen, and on the manifest, Frank is listed as nine year old Franz Freund.
Family tradition is that he stayed in New York City for six months, working days at a brush factory and attending school at night. His son George Geyer told Vernon Capps in 1967 that Frank worked as a shoe repairman in New York, having learned that trade in Germany. Family tradition also tells that he came with his cousin Frankie Freund to Iowa. In the 1915 Iowa State Census record for Frank, it states that he has been in the United States for 39 years and in Iowa for 34 years, leading to the conclusion that he and Frankie came to Iowa sometime around 1881.

26 year old Frank Geyer in 1880

On December 25, 1888, Frank married Lucinda Ellen Griffith. Their marriage license is difficult to read, but it appears that they were married at the bride's parents' home in Wellman. The witnesses were H. W. Denker and [illegible]. They were married by Rev. W. Chew. Upon their marriage, Frank changed his religion from Roman Catholic to Methodist Episcopalian. Their son George told Vernon Capps that his father had a big farm, 200 acres and raised good gardens. Before they planted gardens or trees on their farm, they used to go to the Griffiths to get their fruits and vegetables. When George and John were little, they remembered that their mother would let the neighbors help themselves for free to the gardens and fruits that they raised.

Frank and Lucinda Geyer with their boys
Back (L to R): George, Leonard, Grant, John
Front (L to R): Wilbur, Lucinda, Frank, and Harold

Frank and Lucinda had six sons, Leonard Lawrence (1890-1945), George Everett (1891-1971), Francis Grant (1897-1951), John Walter (1899-1983), Wilbur Griffith (1906-1993), and Harold Wayne (1908-1940). They lived in the Wellman, Washington, Iowa area except for five years spent near Pipestone, Minnesota from 1899 until 1904.

1922 Geyer family reunion
Standing (L to R): John and Margaret Geyer (children Harriott, Elloise), Grant and Grace Geyer, Wilbur Geyer, Harold Geyer, Leonard and Sylvia Geyer (child Leota), George and Jennie Geyer (children Beatrice, George Jr).
Seated: Frank with grandsons Kenneth (on Frank's right knee) and Harlan (on Frank's left knee), and Lucinda with Irene

My grandfather Harlan remembered his grandfather as being a very hard worker. Over 75 years later, he also still remembered the little bit of German his grandfather had taught him, "Eins, zwei, drei," ("one, two, three"). He told us that his grandparents grew everything they could get seeds for and his grandmother filled the basement with preserves.

Frank and Lucinda Geyer on their farm (before 1935)

Frank died of either a stroke or a heart attack on March 29, 1938 in his farmyard in Wellman. He was buried in Bunker Hill Cemetery about 3 miles west of Wellman, Washington, Iowa, but was removed to the Wellman Cemetery when Lucinda died in 1951.


Frank Geyer Found Dead In Barnyard of Farm Home

Wellman -- Mr. Frank Geyer, 75, was found dead in the barnyard of his farm home, three and one-half miles northwest of Wellman, Tuesday afternoon. He had been in failing health for sometime and had been confined to his bed recently. Death is believed to have been caused by a heart attack.

Mr. Geyer was born in Johnsburg, Germany, April 16, 1862, and came to Iowa with an uncle when 13 years old. He lived in the Washington Prairie community for several years and married Miss Lucinda Griffith December 22, 1888. The couple settled on the Wishard farm near Wellman where they lived until moving to their present home, with the exception of five years passed in Minnesota.

Surviving are the widow; six sons, Messrs. Leonard and Grant Geyer of Wellman, Wilbur Geyer at home, George Geyer of Scranton, John Geyer of Thornburg and Howard Geyer of near Iowa City; 22 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. One sister and five half-brothers in Germany also survive.

Funeral services will be held at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon in the Wellman Methodist Episcopal church. Burial will be in the Bunker Hill cemetery.

Source: "Wellman Man Dies Suddenly," Iowa City Press Citizen 30 Mar 1938, page 9, last column.


Gravestone of Frank and Lucinda Geyer
Wellman Cemetary, Wellman, Washington, Iowa

Fathers of Mine: Francis Grant Geyer

This is the third of a series on the men who make up my paternal line, the first was about my father Harlan Martin Geyer Jr, the second was about my grandfather Harlan Martin Geyer Sr.


Francis Grant Geyer
Francis Grant Geyer was born on July 14, 1897 in Wellman, Washington, Iowa. He was the third of six sons born to Frank and Lucinda (Griffith) Geyer. I don't know a great deal about Grant Geyer. It seems that he is one of those "skeletons" that many family members prefer to keep in the closet. He was a heavy drinker and was apparently not the nicest guy around. My grandfather, Harlan Geyer Sr., Grant's oldest child, moved away from home at the age of 12 because he and his father did not get along. My grandfather hardly ever spoke of him.
Grant and Grace (McGimpsey) Geyer, 30 April 1944
According to the 1915 Iowa State Census, Grant could read and write, had attended nine years of common schooling, and was working as a farmhand. On his World War I Draft Registration Card, recorded on August 24, 1918, Grant is listed as being of medium height and build, with brown hair and eyes and no disabilities.
On May 14, 1919, he married Grace Edith McGimpsey in Thornburg, Keokuk, Iowa. The ceremony was witnessed by Mr. and Mrs. John W. Geyer, Grant's younger brother by two years, and was performed by Rev. F. Butterfield.
In the 1920 US Federal Census, the newlyweds are living on Grant's father Frank's farm, where Grant is working as a farm laborer. In the 1930 US Federal Census, the family is renting a home in Fairfield, Jefferson, Iowa, and Grant's occupation is listed as a molder in an ironwork. My grandfather confirmed this, telling me that his father was a molder at Malleable Iron Ironworks until 1932 or 1933 when he lost his job because of the Depression. He then worked for awhile in a junk yard, was a farmhand, and finally moved back with his parents, Frank and Lucinda Geyer, to work the farm.
Grant and Grace Geyer's house
Grant and Grace had twelve kids total: my grandfather, Harlan Martin (1920-2006), Doris, Dorothy, Donald Leroy (1924-1979), Calvin, Max H. (1927-1928), Niva Mae, Frances Jean, Lois I. (1933-1956), Larry Dale, LaVerne Everett, and Floyd Eugene (1946-1977). Grant died at the age of 54 on September 19, 1951, at the State University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.
According to my grandfather, he died of stomach cancer. But on Grant's death certificate, the condition directly leading to death is listed as myocardial infarction (onset: 3 weeks, 8 days), with the added complication of an embolism in his left femoral artery (onset: 3 days).


Wellman - Francis Grant Geyer, 54, died Wednesday at University Hospital in Iowa City following a short illness. He was born July 4, 1897 in Washington county, the son of Frank and Lucinda Geyer. He was married to Grace McGimpsey, May 14 1919.
He is survived by his widow, four daughters, Mrs. John Allard, Harman Village, Guam, Lois of Wellman, Niva, of Wellman, and WAC Pvt. Dorothy Geyer, of Ft. Lee, Va., and six sons, Harlan, Oceanside, Calif., Donald, Wellman, Calvin, Iowa City, Larry, Wellman, Laverne, Wellman and Francis.
Also surviving are his mother, Mrs. Lucinda Geyer, and three brothers, George, Boone, John, of Thornburg, and Wilbur of Oxford. Service will be at the Methodist church in Wellman at 2 p.m. Saturday with the Rev. D. C. Bissinger officiating. Burial will be near Thornburg. The body is at Powell funeral home in Wellman."
Source: "Francis Geyer, 54, Dies at U-Hospital After Short Illness," Iowa City Press Citizen 21 Sep 1951, page 11, column 6.


It seems relations were so poor between my grandfather Harlan and his parents that it was not until he met the then almost five year old Floyd at his father's funeral that he was even aware that he had a new kid brother.
Grant and Grace Geyer's Gravestone
Sixteen Cemetery Sec 5 Row 14, Thornburg, Keokuk, Iowa

Fathers of Mine: Harlan Martin Geyer Sr

This is the second of a series on the men who make up my paternal line, the first was about my father Harlan Martin Geyer Jr.


The year is 1920. It's the era of Prohibition, Babe Ruth has just signed with the Yankees, "Big Bill" Tilden is the first American to win Wimbledon, the US population has reached 117.8 million, and on July 22, my grandfather, Harlan Martin Geyer, Sr., was born in Lime Creek, Iowa. The oldest of twelve children born to Francis Grant and Grace (McGimpsey) Geyer.

In history books, we find the Depression associated with the 1930's, but for farmers in Iowa and other rural areas, it hit a decade earlier. During WWI, American farmers heeded the call to produce extra food for American soldiers and the peoples of the war-torn nations of Europe, causing an explosion in the prices of farmland and farm commodities. Both speculators and farmers went deep into debt to buy more land, better equipment, and more livestock. But as the war ended and the farms of Europe once more became productive, prices fell sharply. A bushel of corn that sold for $1.73 in July 1920, sold for only $0.41 a year later. Farmers went bankrupt, banks foreclosed, but with the sharp drop in land value, the banks still couldn't recoup the money they'd loaned and many small rural banks failed. This was the world in which Harlan Geyer grew up.

Harlan was raised just north of Wellman, Washington, Iowa. In 1920, his father was a tenant farmer, working rented land to support his quickly growing family. Life was stressful; they had problems making ends meet for a family that grew with the birth of a child every two years. Harlan and his parents didn't get along, and starting at the age of 12, he found himself living first with his great-uncle Grant Griffith, then his uncle Wilbur Geyer.

In May 1938, Harlan graduated Wellman High School and along with his diploma, received a Normal Training Certificate. He got a position teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in English River, Iowa, where he taught kindergarten through eighth grade for a year.

Harlan's USMC portrait

On December 7, 1941, World War II reached the United States when the Japanese made a surprise attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Young American men enlisted by the thousands to do their part for their country. One of these men was Harlan Geyer. As part of the 2nd Marine Division, Harlan served in three major battles of the Pacific Campaign, Tarawa atoll, Saipan and Tinian.

Harlan and friends

I had a group of radio operators, a group of telephone alignment switchmen, and some message center people, you know, 20 or 30 guys were reporting to me. [They'd] string lines and set up switchboard, operated portable radios. Most of the communicators were [not on the front lines] well, there’s communicators on the front line too, but actually I was in a shore party battalion, mainly they set up on the beach. We weren’t inland fighting the enemy. We come under fire when we landed at Saipan because, you know, the enemy wasn’t that far ahead. And one of my men was killed by a mortar.

After the war, he was ready to settle down and start a family. It took him four proposals to four different girls, but eventually he found the right one, his good friend Ila Bear. They were married June 11, 1945 in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina by Navy Chaplain Harold B. Lawson. The ceremony was witnessed by their friends Dorothy Harloff and William Marshall.

Harlan looked for work in Moline, Illinois, interviewing for a job at the telephone company, but they wanted him to start out at the bottom of the ladder. This didn't sit well with Harlan, who felt he deserved credit for the four years of wartime communications experience under his belt. Dismayed at his prospects in the civilian workforce, Harlan decided he would make his career as a Marine. For their first year of marriage, Ila lived with her brother John in Moline, where she taught elementary school, while Harlan was sent to school in Missouri. Harlan was soon after stationed at Camp Pendleton and Ila moved with him to Oceanside, California, where they had two children, Harlan Jr. and Cherie.

Harlan Sr, Ila, Harlan Jr and Cherie at Harlan's graduation ceremony in 1957

While serving as the supply chief of Base Communications at Camp Pendleton, Harlan went back to school, earning an Associate of Arts degree from Oceanside-Carlsbad College in 1957. My father, Harlan Jr, would tell us that his main memory of his father was of Harlan Sr studying at his desk in the back room of the house.

Harlan and Ila with Christina

Harlan Sr and Ila were devoted grandparents. After Harlan Jr married and moved to Virginia in 1978, Harlan Sr and Ila decided to move as well, living for several years with Harlan Jr's family in Oak Hill. But as the family grew, the house got crowded and Harlan and Ila moved first to a townhouse in Chantilly, then to a ranch-style house in Herndon. Us grandchildren often spent the weekends at their home, my youngest brother Christian lived with them for some time so he could attend the school near their home.

In 1992, after fighting for years against aggressive breast cancer, Ila passed away. Harlan joined a widowers club where he met Mary Bahlmann, who soon became his second wife. Harlan and Mary were active in Civitan and the local bridge club. Harlan often taught craft workshops at the local senior center.

They lived happily for many years, until 2001, which ended up being a very tough year for Harlan. Mary had a recurrence of colon cancer and his son, Harlan Jr, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Both passed away during the course of the year.

Harlan and Mary Geyer

Harlan stepped into the role of father for us grandchildren. Having breakfast at the Reston Silver Diner with his grandsons every Saturday, where even the waitstaff knew him as "Grandpa", and travelling all the way to Berlin, Germany to walk me down the aisle at my wedding in 2003.

Harlan escorting Christina down the aisle at her wedding, 24 May 2003

At the end of 2005, Harlan was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He passed away on March 24, 2006 at the age of 85.


Harlan Martin Geyer, Sr. (Age 85) of Reston, Virginia, died on Friday, March 24, 2006 at Fair Oaks Hospital after a four month battle with esophageal cancer. He was born July 20, 1920 in the town of Wellman, Iowa, to the late Francis Grant and Grace McGimpsey Geyer.

Harlan served 20 years in the US Marine Corps, attaining the rank of 1st Sergeant. As a member of the 2nd Marine Division, he took part in the Battle of Tarawa, one of the bloodiest battle of the Pacific in World War II. He also served in the Battles of Saipan and Tinian.

On June 11, 1945, he was joined in marriage to Ila I. Bear. After her passing in 1992, he was united in marriage to his second wife, Mary Gallagher Farley Bahlmann, who passed away in 2001. Harlan is survived by three brothers, Calvin, Larry and La Verne; his sisters, Doris Allard, Dorothy Biddle and Niva Nix; his daughter, Cherie Geyer and his grandchildren, Christopher, Christian and Christina Geyer and her husband, Rainer Spang. Harlan also rejoiced in being a loving grandfather to Beth, Patty, Scott and Chris Farley, grandchildren of his second wife. He was preceded in death by his son, Harlan M. Geyer, Jr., of Oak Hill, Virginia.

Funeral services for HARLAN M. GEYER will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 1 at ADAMS-GREEN FUNERAL HOME, 721 Elden St., Herndon, VA.
Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, April 11 at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends are welcome.

Written by Christina Geyer, an abbreviated version appeared in The Washington Post on March 29, 2006.

Harlan's burial ceremony at Arlington, 11 April 2006

Friday, June 15, 2007

New blog on the Saami

I just ran across a fairly new, but so far very informative blog on the Saami people: The Saami - Samer - Det Samiske - Samisk. From the author:

Welcome to this blog that is mainly about the Saami people, my search for cultural identity and learning Saami and Kven history. My childhood in the Norwegian county of Finnmark made me well aware of cultural conflicts as well as racism. As for many others of Saami heritage the demonstrations in Alta in 1980 –81 increased my ethnical and cultural consciousness in spite the fact that everything about "the Saami" was taboo in the geographical area and family I grew up in. My approach towards a Saami identity has been gradual. First accepting that I am of Saami, that was the hardest part because of strong denial in a norwegianised culture and harassment by other people, both by “closet-Saami” (i.e. people that want to hide their Saami heritage) and by non-Saami. Then about 15 years ago I started to gather some information, using the Internet, remembering what my grandparents taught me, and then joined some Saami groups as a passive member.
Before you click the link however, be warned that the blog has autoplay music. The music is nice, but if you're at work, you may want to turn your speakers off first!

Fathers of Mine: Harlan Martin Geyer Jr

Harlan as a baby

My father, Harlan Martin Geyer, Jr., was born on May 9, 1947 to Harlan Martin Geyer, Sr., and Ila (Bear) Geyer, at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oceanside, San Diego, California. He was the oldest of two children born to Harlan and Ila, and the only son. He was always very close with his younger sister Cherie. He died on November 2, 2001.

From the start, he was a caring person and an animal lover. He was always bringing home stray animals and wild creatures and volunteered with the local church group.


Granada Hills - A group of young people of high school and college age, called "SLUPYouth" from the St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 16200 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills, assisted wheelchair and bed patients to attend a Presbyterian worship service at Los Angeles County General Hospital.

Nancy Laich, Rhonda Dale, Marna Muenze and Dawn Buell, Chuck Benyei, Ken Hanson and Harlan Geyer Jr., met at the General Hospital for their instructions.

The young people were assigned to patients and given instructions by the hospital staff.

The service was scheduled for one hour after which the patients were returned to the wards. The young people felt that it was an inspiring and rewarding experience to help these people.

Source: "Church Youth Help Hospital Patients at Worship Service," Valley News, Van Nuys, California, 24 June 1966, page 36-A, column 1.


Harlan at 18 years old

Sometime during his first year of college, Harlan decided that he needed to serve his country. Over the strenuous objections of his career Marine father, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

He always told us children that he got in a fist fight with his dad when he told him, but this may have just been him kidding around. From an interview with my grandfather, Harlan M. Geyer, Sr., on November 26, 2005:

Christina: Is it true that when dad came home and said he volunteered for the Marines that you got in a fight and punched him?

Harlan: No I did not punch him, that I know of.

Christina: He always said that you were fighting in the front yard and you punched him.

Harlan: I don’t remember that, I just…

Cherie: I remember him crying.

Harlan: I was just upset because I figured that I did enough for both of us and when I became convinced that he was determined to go into the Marine Corps, I realized that I had to make a change and I said okay, if you’ve gotta go, I’m taking the day off and I’ll take you down myself. So I took him. And when the recruiting sergeant called me, wanted to talk to me, and I told him to go to hell. And he said that he was supposed to pick him up at 5 o’clock in the morning or something like that and I said, well, if you do you’re a dead man. But then Junior come home and he was so uptight about wanting to be a Marine that I decided that the best thing for me to do was to change my attitude and support my son.

Christina: Did he say why he wanted to be a Marine so much?

Harlan: He wanted to be like me.

Harlan after completing boot camp
My aunt Cherie is on the far left and my grandma and grandpa are to the right

Harlan served from 15 June 1966 until 1 March 1969. Over this time period, he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal with device, Meritorious Mast, Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Service Medal with three stars, Combat Action Ribbon and the Good Conduct Medal. His combat history included counterinsurgency operations and participation in the operations De Soto, Kentucky, Osceola, Lancaster, Dye Marker, Scotland and Napoleon. He was a member of HMM-163, MAG-36, 1stMAW.


A Marine rifle company in Vietnam will shortly display a California State Flag through the efforts of State Sen. Tom Carrell of San Fernando.

The flag was sent to Marine Pfc. Harlan Geyer, a Mission Hills resident, at the request of his mother, Mrs. Harlan M. Geyer, Sr., 10882 Arleta Ave., who wrote to the Senator and told him that her son, a native Californian, had requested one.

Accompanying the flag, Sen. Carrell sent a certificate attesting to the fact that the flag has been flown over the State Capitol in Sacramento.

In a cover letter to the Marine, the San Fernando Valley solon declared, "We will be proud to have it flown over your company in Vietnam."

Source: State Flag Sent to Valley Marine on Vietnam Duty, Valley News, Van Nuys, California, 9 Apr 1967, page 2-A, column 5.


After the Marines, Harlan finished college, getting a degree in Accounting, and began working as an Auditor for the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office. As part of his job, he spent long periods overseas investigating the books of U.S. military bases around the world. In 1973, he was sent to investigate a base in Thailand and was assigned to work with a beautiful Thai bookkeeper, my mother, Unchalee.

My mom and dad in Thailand

They married in Bangkok on 10 June 1974, and had a second ceremony on 18 June 1974 at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada. About nine months later, I was born and was always Daddy's Girl. Three and six years later, respectively, my brothers Christopher and Christian were born.

My brother Christopher and I with dad

My dad was my best friend and I still miss him a lot, especially our long talks. He totally got me and at least for me, finding someone who gets you is a big deal. He was an avid gardener and loved clematises, planting them wherever he could. The yard in Virginia was filled with bird feeders and bird baths, he even put dog food out in the woods for the local foxes (whether or not this was a good idea, I don't know, but the neighbors have taken up doing it now).

The proud papa at Christopher's high school graduation
L to R: Christian, Harlan, Christopher, Christina and Unchalee

He read everything he could get his hands on, even the first three Harry Potter novels, and was a WWII history buff. His basement office was filled from floor to ceiling with tank, plane, and battleship models he planned to build after retirement. He was the undisputed, undefeated family trivial pursuit champion. None of us had any chance to beat him, even when we all played together against him (I've since taken the role of champion on).

After a 10 month fight against pancreatic cancer, he died at the age of 54. He never got to see me get married or know that Rainer is the guy that I'd end up with. I never got to hear the excitement he would have had to know that I'm now pregnant with his first grandchild. But at least I got the time with him that I did. I often have to remind myself that some people never get to know their dads.

My dad loved his garden and fish pond

He did meet Rainer once, however. The summer before he passed away, Rainer came up for a family dinner. He brought a bottle of good Riesling, and although my dad hadn't had any appetite for months, he ate the dinner and drank a glass of wine. I really wish Rainer had been able to get to know my dad better, cause I think my dad was a pretty special guy. You could always depend on him for whatever you needed, whether it was a laugh when you were sad, a talk when you were lonely, or being picked up from college in the middle of the night cause you were homesick.

People may have wondered why I never wrote anything for the 5th anniversary of September 11. That was because I spent most of the day on the phone with my dad, so my memory of 9-11 is tied to the memory of my dad, and it's still tough for me to think about. He worked in a building across the parking lot from the Pentagon. Although he'd been home for months, sick from cancer, he worried that some of his friends might have been in the section destroyed by the terrorists. He stayed on the phone much of the morning making sure that his people were all okay. It ends up that one very old friend of his was in the Pentagon, but luckily not in the affected section. He also comforted his secretary. Her aunt was a secretary in the section hit. After a few worried hours, they found out that she was not in her office at the time and survived unscathed.

Harlan entered the Hospice of Northern Virginia the night before he died. The hospice staff told us that no one had ever had as many visitors as my dad. He was loved by everyone who knew him and his friends and coworkers made a constant stream of visitors on his last day. They told us that the secretaries had worked out a visiting schedule and people came over from his office and the Pentagon in carloads of five and six at a time to say goodbye. I remember standing outside his room and crying with dozens of his male and female coworkers alike. I don't know why, but it's unbelievably heartbreaking to see 50 year old men, many of them former or current military men, breaking down into sobs.

We spread some of his ashes at the Tidal Basin

On that last day, he was also presented with the Distinguished Civilian Service Award. It is the highest civilian honor the Defense Department awards. He stayed aware of what was going on almost to the very end and was very proud when they came for the ceremony.

He died in the evening with his family surrounding him. I was holding his hand.

Some of his ashes are interred at the Columbarium in Arlington National Cemetery


Harlan M. Geyer Jr. - Of Oak Hill, VA. On Friday, November 2, 2001 at Hospice of Arlington. Beloved husband of Unchalee Geyer; father of Christina Lynn Geyer of Durham, NC, Christopher Eugene and Christian Alan Geyer, both of Richmond, VA; son of Harlan M. Geyer of Reston, VA; brother of Cherie Ann Geyer of Aliso Viejo, CA. Mr. Geyer was a Marine Combat Veteran of Vietnam and awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award. Service will be held on Sunday, November 4 at 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at ADAMS-GREEN FUNERAL HOME, 721 Elden St, Herndon, VA. A graveside service will also be held at Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium on Tuesday, November 20 at 1 p.m. (Please assemble at 12:30 p.m. at the Administration Building). In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in his name to Hospice of Northern Virginia or the American Cancer Society.

Source: Harlan M. Geyer, Jr., obituary, The Washington Post, 3 Nov 2001.


Harlan Martin Geyer, Jr.
9 May 1947 - 2 Nov 2001

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