Cover photo for William C. Orthwein's Obituary
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William C. Orthwein

January 27, 1924 — June 11, 2021

William C. Orthwein

Dr. William C. Orthwein, 97, died Friday, June 11, 2021 at Village on the Park in Oklahoma City where he resided in recent months after living in Highland, Illinois.



He was born on January 27, 1924 in Toledo, Ohio to the late William E. and Millie Minerva (Coe) Orthwein. He looked forward to visiting cousins in Crawford County, Ohio each summer starting at the age of 8 where he helped on their farm. He frequently ventured to Detroit with his mom, sister, and friends. After graduating from DeVilbiss High School, William spent a year at M.I.T. before joining the US Army during WW2 and serving in India. After his discharge, he married Helen V. Poindexter, whom he met in high school, and then returned to Cambridge where he finished his undergraduate work.



After graduating from M.I.T., William and Helen lived in and toured Europe for six months before moving to New Mexico where he worked for General Dynamics. Realizing he needed advanced degrees, he enrolled at the University of Michigan where he earned his Masters and PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Orthwein had several employers, including NASA and IBM, and taught at the University of Michigan and University of Oklahoma before settling in Carbondale, Illinois where he was a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Southern Illinois University. He was a classic workaholic, often working on a project in addition to teaching courses. He also authored three books, “Clutches and Brakes,” “Machine Component Design,” and “Forbidden Economics.” Outside of work, he was an avid outdoorsman, hunter, gun collector, and nature photographer. He became a pilot in the 1960s and loved flying until his age no longer permitted. He kept up on politics, served on several boards, and was a member of the NRA, American Legion, VFW, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Society of Automotive Engineers. While living in Palo Alto, California in the 1960s he and Helen joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.



Dr. Orthwein is survived by daughters, Karla (Darryl) Schaefermeyer of Alaska, Adele (Clyde) Marshall of Texas, and Terri Howard of Oklahoma; 9 grandchildren; and 22 great grandchildren; along with extended family.



In addition to his parents, William was preceded in death by sister and brother-in-law, Virginia and Jack Clanton, and by his beloved bride, Helen Orthwein, in 1994.



A graveside funeral will be held on Monday, June 21 at 11:00 am in Oakwood Cemetery in Bucyrus, Ohio where military rites will be observed by the US Army Honor Guard and Bucyrus Veterans Military Funeral Detail.



Donations in Dr. Orthwein’s memory are encouraged to be made payable to a charity of the donor’s choice and sent to Wise Funeral Service, 129 W. Warren St., Bucyrus, Ohio 44820. Memories and photos can be shared on his Tribute Wall.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William C. Orthwein, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Graveside Funeral

Monday, June 21, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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