April 12, 1927 – Feb. 24, 2017
Christian Friedrich Gottzmann, a research director at Praxair who held numerous patents on cryogenic and heat transfer devices, died unexpectedly Feb. 24 in his home in Hollywood, Fla., where he had been a resident since November. He was 89.
Born in Berlin, Germany, into a family that owned a brewery and brick factory in Raciborz, Silesia, now part of Poland, he stayed behind with his father when his mother, younger sister and step-father, prominent abstract painter Kurt Roesch, fled to the U.S. in the 1930s.
After his father was sent to the eastern front during World War II, he enlisted in the German Navy to avoid being conscripted into the SS. As the war ended, he and other sailors escaped capture by the Russians by sailing to Copenhagen, Denmark, where they surrendered to the British.
He was held for a year in an island prisoner of war camp, then volunteered to sail vessels to Russia for war reparations. After locating relatives in Munich, he attended trade school and obtained an address in the U.S. for his mother, who sponsored him as an immigrant.
He graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Columbia University, where he was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society.
After graduation, Mr. Gottzmann began working for the Tonawanda labs of Linde Air Products, now Praxair. In his 43-year career with the company, he was a leader in research and development of devices and processes including cryogenic pumps, advanced insulations, enhanced heat transfer and polymeric and ceramic membranes.
He retired in 1996 as a senior corporate fellow, the company’s highest technical rank, then continued to work as a consultant for 11 more years on process and product development and intellectual property.
He was the inventor or co-inventor on 51 U.S. patents and published numerous papers on cryogenic pumps, enhanced heat transfer, airborne air separation and non-cryogenic air separation.
He was inducted into the Praxair Technology Hall of Fame.
Mr. Gottzmann was elected a life fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, serving for many years as a member of the executive committee of the Process Industry Division, including a term as chairman.
He organized and chaired many technical conferences. He was awarded the ASME Centennial Medal in 1980 and the 50th Anniversary Achievement Award from the ASME Process Industry Division in 1984.
A longtime Clarence resident, he was an early supporter of youth hockey and soccer. He was a past president of Clarence Hockey and was manager of a travel team. In soccer, he served as coach of house and travel teams for many years.
In retirement, he enjoyed traveling, reading about history and technology, as well as watching sports.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, the former Marjorie Wilson; a daughter, Kathryn Anderson; two sons, Gary and Matthew; and two grandsons.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, 8550 Main St. at Harris Hill Road, Clarence.