John Martin Thalheimer, 82, of Rydal, former owner of one of the largest processors and recyclers of nonferrous scrap metal in the world, died Monday, Dec. 19, of heart failure at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health.

Mr. Thalheimer was born in 1934 in Stuttgart, and escaped with his family from Nazi Germany to the United States in 1936. They settled in Philadelphia, and in 1951, he graduated from Central High School.

He was the first in his family to attend college, graduating as a metallurgical engineer from Lehigh University in 1955, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. He remained an active and loyal alumnus of Lehigh throughout his life.

After a brief stint at Bethlehem Steel Corp., he joined the family business, Thalheimer Bros. Inc., begun by his father and two uncles in Strawberry Mansion in 1939. Mr. Thalheimer and his cousin Hans became the second generation to run the business. In 1969, Mr. Thalheimer became the sole proprietor of the company, which had moved to a bigger facility in the Northeast.

Mr. Thalheimer's son-in-law Rich Reiner joined the business in 1999 - the third generation, something of which Mr. Thalheimer was very proud - and the two ran it together even after it was sold in 2012.

"He was very healthy and vibrant until he died," said his wife, Joan. "He never retired. He continued working. As somebody said to me, he had three children, Gwen and Emily and Thalheimer Bros."

As devoted as he was to his business - traveling 50,000 miles a year in the early days and running the company from pay phones - he was always home for dinner, said his wife. They met on a blind date and were married for 53 years, "extremely happily," she said.

Mr. Thalheimer was an active member of Congregation Rodeph Shalom for 50 years, a loyal supporter of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a past president of the Philmont Country Club.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughters Gwen Thalheimer Goodkin and Emily Thalheimer Reiner, and five grandchildren.

Services are at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St., Philadelphia 19123.

Contributions may be made to Congregation Rodeph Shalom at the address above, or to the American Heart Association.

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@Kathy_Boccella