Heinz Lange: Merritt teacher and inventor.

Heinz Lange: Merritt teacher and inventor.

Heinz was born in in Eisleben, Prussia (before Germany annexed that country). He was the son of a Prussian father and Polish mother. He was an engineering and art student before the Second World War. When Hitler rose to power he was conscripted into service and became a Luftwaffe test pilot (he was one of the few that flew the first jet planes produced by the Germans at the very end of the war). Eventually he became part of a squadron that flew over the Russian front. In post war Germany he worked for one of General Eisenhower`s fledgling counter intelligence agencies` under “Radio Stuttgart” observing the Russians.

A few years later he immigrated with his first wife and two daughters to Windsor, Ontario and worked in the automotive industry as a design engineer. One year later and divorced, he moved to Kitimat, British Columbia and was part of the engineering team that built the aluminum smelter. While in Vancouver on a break from his work in Kitimat, he met and married Lydia Hienrichs (Lange). He decided to leave Kitimat since it was no place to raise a young family at that time and decided to go to UBC. He wanted to share his knowledge and put his engineering knowledge to better use so he became an industrial arts teacher.

He still kept his passion as a painter which was inspired under the Prussian master “Kisling” who was a well-known classical artist at that time in Prussia. He supported his family while going to UBC as an art teacher from his home in Surrey B.C. and he had many art shows on the mainland during that time.

After he graduated from UBC with honours the family moved to various locations in British Columbia for his teaching assignments, ie: Hazelton (he was made a Chief of Honour by the Kispiox aboriginal people and was given a personal totem and signet ring), McBride, Prince Rupert and finally ending up in Merritt.

He taught industrial arts in Merritt Senior Secondary for many years until his health gave out. He was involved locally in the Rod and Gun Club, Rotary Club, and the Masons. He was an avid inventor (The Wild Wind Onion) and a fierce conservationist, he was a bit eccentric in his ways and passion for art and life. He had a deep respect and admiration for the “First Nations People” and sent a great deal of time with many tribes in all of his travels throughout B.C. His wife Lydia is a relative of the local family the “Sterlings” and the “Father of Merritt” Mr. Voght of whom she has family photo’s before he came to Merritt or “The Forks” as it was known.

One of his last amazing accomplishments was a six-month tour in China as a guest of the Chinese government. They asked him to talk about alternate energy sources and of course his “Wild Wind Onion”. He spoke at many Universities and trade schools in China. It was, I believe, his last major achievement. My father loved life. His wish as a teacher and in Merritt was to inspire his students to think “outside of the box”, protect the environment and pass on knowledge. He encouraged free thinking and to be more than you are. 

Submitted by Michael Steele.

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