Andrew Pfeiffer of Old Lyme, Conn., died at home on November 19th with his family at his side.
He was born in 1917 in Port Jefferson, N.Y. At a young age he excelled in music, and was sent to study piano under Leopold Stokowski at the New York School of Music. He then attended the Ethical Culture School and Fieldston during his teens and graduated from Wells High School in Maine at the age of 16, where he developed his life-long affinity for coastal living in the family cottage in Ogunquit.
After graduation, Andrew came to Old Lyme and worked as a camp counselor at McCulloch’s “Camp Aladdin”, on Whippoorwill Road. His first career job was as a wood carver and touring puppeteer for America’s Puppet Master – Tony Sarg. He later took his carving and woodworking skills to local furniture maker, Stanley Davis, whose factory was on Mill Lane in Old Lyme.
He always had a keen and inventive mind. He possessed the rare characteristic of genius, coupled with tremendous dexterity — a mix of science and ingenuity that allowed him not only to determine the issue, but also to design and build tools to implement the solutions. His accomplishments were achieved with only a high school education.
During the early stages of WWII, Andrew worked in the aero-technology industry for Sikorsky helping in the production of Connecticut’s fighter plane the “Corsair” and later aided in the development of helicopters. He then took his skill to the Manhattan Project with Westinghouse in Bloomfield, New Jersey. There, he worked directly with a new metal known as Uranium, or as the machinists called it, “Tubealloy”. It had strange properties that made it difficult with which to work. It caught fire, galled during machining, and required special techniques to handle during the manufacturing process. In the lab, Andrew worked on many of those difficulties, as well as several experimental projects associated with x-ray and electrolysis. At the end of the war, while offered a research lab opportunity, Andrew chose instead to settle back in Old Lyme, build his home, and raise a family.
Andrew married Marianne Goetze, whom he met at the McCulloch farm. They were married for 74 years. Her family had emigrated from Germany in 1934. Her father was a professor of Babylonian and Near Eastern Studies at Marburg University and assumed a position at Yale on his escape from Nazi Germany. Andrew and Marianne built their house and family farm on Whippoorwill Road and raised three children. Andrew built a shop and laboratory attached to the house. Pfeiffer Research Instruments continued designing specialized equipment for various research laboratories and academic institutions. Andrew held several patents in diverse fields of medical research and communications. Several times in his career, Andrew and Marianne took on an artistic and creative sideline, designing and producing various kinds of jewelry. Pfeiffer Cloisonné and Silver Work reached many corners of the world and has even been owned by some world leaders.
Working for himself at his home and shop permitted Andrew to spend valuable time with his family. He and Marianne formed a genuine partnership. Together they raised two daughters and a son. Andy and his wife bestowed to them the love of music, art, natural studies, academics, engineering and mechanics, as well as a competitive spirit. They lived and modeled a life of integrity and honor, emphasizing the importance of community service and making the world a better place.
During his life in Old Lyme, Andrew served as a high school class tutor in Chemistry and Physics, was on the Board of Education, served in several capacities in Civil Defense, was a member of the American Amateur Radio League, the Archaeological Society of Southeastern Connecticut, and most importantly – a friend to many.
Andrew is survived by his wife Marianne; son Ned Pfeiffer and wife Marga of Old Lyme; daughter Dianne Merrill of San Rafael, California; and three grandchildren – Aubris and Dane Pfeiffer of Old Lyme; and Trevor Page of San Francisco, California. He was predeceased by his daughter Merrily Page of San Francisco, California and beloved brother John E. Pfeiffer of New Hope, Pennsylvania. Andrew will be missed but not forgotten.
At Andrew’s request, no services will be held. The family extends its grateful thanks to the staff and volunteers of Hospice and Palliative Care at Middlesex Hospital.