CELEBRATION of Dietrich's life was held on Saturday afternoon, January 23, 2010,
at the Rosendale Community Center. Click here to contribute your memories of Dietrich
of Rosendale, died suddenly on Tuesday, December 15, 2009. He is
survived by his wife, Gayle Grunwald, a son, Anton, and a daughter, Althea.
born in 1942 in Germany and, as a child, immigrated with his
family to the United States, growing up in Greenville, NY. He served in the U.S.
Navy, then earned his Associate's degree from Ulster County Community
College in 1968, and a Bachelor's degree in History from SUNY New Paltz
historian and community activist, Dietrich made his living as a plumber
and electrician for many years. In the 1970s, he worked with sculptor Hans
Van de Bovenkamp, designing plumbing systems for water sculptures. From
1980-1995, he was the owner of Huguenot Plumbing & Electric of
Rosendale, after which he retired to devote himself full-time to the
preservation of the Snyder Estate and development of The Century House
formed in 1992 when the Huguenot Historical Society decided to sell the
Rosendale estate of A.J. Snyder II, which had been bequeathed to the
Huguenots in the 1970s. As the last cement tycoon of Rosendale and
Huguenot descendant, Snyder hoped that his home and estate would be
open to the public, but the 19th-century industrial nature of the site
did not fit with the colonial character of Huguenot Street, and the
estate was rarely accessible. Learning that this vital piece of
Rosendale history was to be sold into private hands (perhaps becoming a
bed & breakfast), Dietrich and Gayle decided to acquire the
property, organize an all-volunteer non-profit organization, and
develop the estate as an historic site. They applied successfully for a
grant of $150,000 through the N.Y.S. Empire Bond Act. For the required
$150,000 match, Gayle and Dietrich conducted a fund-raising campaign
and contributed their own money so that the Society was able to acquire
the homestead and its furnishings, archives, carriage houses, Snyder's
antique carriage collection, the Widow Jane Mine, a canal slip, and
about 20 acres of land. Dietrich and Gayle then collaborated with the
N.Y.S. Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to prepare
the Snyder Estate National Cement Historic District, resulting in
federal and state approval for that official designation.
of the property, and officer of the Century House Historical Society,
Dietrich eventually raised more than $70,000 in additional funds for
operations, arts programming, archives, and renovation of the historic
structures. He became the heart and soul of the Society, devoting
himself tirelessly to preserving and promoting the history of Rosendale
and its contributions to the building of the nation, and guiding groups
around the estate. No visitors to the property, from school groups to
industrial archeologists could forget his enthusiasm or depth of
knowledge about history. With the assistance of members and friends of
the Society, visits rose from less than 100 in 1989 to 6,000 per year.
Dietrich also shared his unique knowledge of the cement industry in the
Rosendale region in a series of publications, including articles in
Natural News (the Society's quarterly publication), and in
specialized publications for masonry preservation and testing materials.
Historical Society was Dietrich's major project, he was involved in
many more activities in Rosendale and throughout the area. He served on
the Rosendale Street Festival Committee from 1978-80 and in 1995 joined
the Festival as co-chair of the Non-Profit Organizations Committee.
Over the years, he was active in preservation workshops sponsored by
the N.Y.S. Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, as
well as the Ulster County Environmental Management Council, the
Rosendale Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts of America Explorer Post
42, the Ulster County Railroad Advisory Committee, and the DEC Regional
Open Space Advisory Committee. He also served as editor of numerous
publications in addition to Natural News, including Seaposter
(bi-monthly from the Maritime Postmark Society), the Town of Rosendale
Sesquicentennial Celebration program, the program for the First
American Natural Cement Conference, and the Hudson Valley Poets Fest
2007, reflecting his diverse interests. Dietrich was particularly proud
of his contributions to the development of a tri-state tourism
destination along the Delaware and Hudson Canal Corridor, and the
creation of the Karst Aquifer Protection Region for Rosendale. He also
served as the Chair of the Ulster County Independence Party.
Dietrich Werner was a central figure in the life of Rosendale. With his
trademark long white hair and beard, his colorful suspenders and his
zest for life, he was familiar to almost everyone in town. As was
written of Sir Christopher Wren, "If you seek his monument, look around
his wife and children, Dietrich Werner is survived by his mother,
Marianne Doorly; his sister, Barbara Ullstrom, and his nieces and
nephews: Wendy, Chris, and Suzy, all of Greene County.
flowers, donations may be sent to The Century House Historical Society, The
Snyder Estate, PO Box 150, Rosendale, NY 12472-0150.
The Society is a 501(c)(3)
charitable organization. Donations are tax-deductible, as provided by law.
Click here for N.Y.S. Assembyman Kevin Cahill's memories of Dietrich. Click here to contribute your own memories of Dietrich.