Cook County Council honors life of German-American community leader Erich Himmel

CHICAGO, September 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Cook County Council will present a resolution honoring the life of Eric Himmelpillar of the German-American community for almost half a century, on Thursday September 22.

Himmel is known for organizing the annual “german daycelebration in Lincoln Square. For 35 years, Himmel was also the Grand Marshal of the annual Von Steuben Parade celebrating German culture and heritage.

Himmel died on Monday, August 29, 2022at the age of 86.

Cook County Commissioner John Daley present the resolution honoring Himmel’s life at the monthly board meeting. The resolution was unanimously sponsored by all 17 commissioners.

Himmel’s devotion to German culture was unparalleled. He became president of the Rheinischer Verein Mardi Gras Society, created to celebrate and promote the traditions of Germany, for more than 25 years. For more than three decades, he was also president of the United German-American Societies, which includes 35 groups that promote German culture with Oktoberfest celebrations, German singing and folk dancing.

Himmel’s devotion to German culture has spread around the world. In 1984, Himmel was awarded germany the highest civil honor of germany President, the Federal Cross of Merit, or Bundesverdienstkreutz, for his contribution to the preservation of German culture in a foreign country.

Himmel was born in Mosbach, Germanyapart from Munichon January 3, 1936. He met his wife Ingeborg when he was 17. He told her he wanted to wait until he was 30 to get married, so she moved to work at Montreal. He decided he loved her so much and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, so he sold his Vespa bike to buy a ticket for her to return.

They married in 1957 and emigrated to United States. Their plan was to spend several years working in the United States and then return to Germany. Wherever they went, Inge would be with him every step of the way.

They spent several months New Hampshire before settling in Chicago Lincoln Square piece. Himmel worked for Volkswagen as a mechanic and later helped open several VW dealerships around the Chicago Region. In 1982, he opened his own body shop, Erich’s Lehigh Auto Body, in nils.

Himmel’s daughters, Carol and Diana, opened a pizzeria with a wood-fired oven in Lincoln Square in 2007. Originally called Pizza DOC, Himmel lobbied his daughters to add German dishes. The Lawrence Avenue restaurant is now called Himmel’s and is a European bistro serving Viennese schnitzels – a rarity for a pizzeria.

Himmel and his wife made several trips back to Germany but leave Chicago for good was out of the question. Chicago was at home.

Himmel was described by his family as a friend and confidant to many inside and outside the German community with an infectious smile, a wonderful sense of humor, a huge heart, a singing voice booming and a memorable snub mustache. An evening with Himmel at his namesake restaurant has been described as an evening of song and schnapps where there are no strangers.

Besides his wife and daughters, Himmel is survived by three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held.

SOURCE Cook County Treasurer’s Office


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