Horst von Oppenfeld

Obituary of Horst von Oppenfeld

Horst von Oppenfeld, was born in Berlin, Germany on July 16th, 1913 and passed away peacefully in Chevy Chase, MD on August 23, 2010. He loved living in Carderock Springs in Bethesda for 41 years. He grew up on his family's farm, Reinfeld, in eastern Germany during and after World War I. At the age of 11 he was sent to Joachimsthaler Gymnasium boarding school in Templin, Germany where he received his diploma at the age of 19. He apprenticed and trained for two years to learn how to run a farm, and ran one of the family farms in Nadrense for a year and a half before he went into the German army to avoid joining the Nazi Party. He was an officer in the 10th Panzer division and served on the Russian front before being sent to the Africa Corps. There he became the aide de camp to Col. Klaus von Stauffenberg, who later made the unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life(as told in Valkyrie). In 1943, he drove his general to surrender to the British army, and was a POW in Kansas and Rhode Island. ( See Learning Freedom in Captivity, January 18, 2004, by Lynn Ermann in the Washington Post Magazine"). Returned destitute to Germany, he used his English skills and farm experience to work for the agriculture ministry in liaison with the American occupation forces. At a "kostum" party, where the Germans dressed in formal black tie, and the Americans dressed in Halloween attire, he met Judith Pownall, who had dressed as a gypsy. She was a civilian working for the U.S. army. They married near Frankfurt in 1948 and he travelled as a male "war bride" on a troop ship back to the U .S. He enrolled at Cornell University, receiving his BA in 1950 and then his MS and Phd. in agricultural economics. From Cornell University, he was sent as an exchange professor from 1955 to 1963 to the University of the Philippines at Los Banos. His research into how to apply academic knowledge to the lives of rural farmers led to a published book and improvements in the farmers lives, and a special award from the president of the Philippines. After a year's sabbatical in Ithaca, NY, he joined the staff of the World Bank for 15 years and travelled the world evaluating agricultural projects. After his retirement from the Bank, he continued consulting for the World Bank, the UN Development Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development in Rome, Kreditanstalt Fuer Wiederaufbau and Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zussamenarbeit in Germany, and the Turkish Development Foundation in Ankara. He spent 18 years consulting, including working with the Grameen Bank to expand Professor Yunus lending program, which has since been awarded the Nobel prize. In 1979 he was working for the UN in Kabul, when the Russians invaded. After the Berlin wall fell in 1989, he was able to return to the farm in Nadrense he ran at age 25 and reinvest in the farm. As an active shareholder, he visited the farm twice a year until the age of 93 and continued to consult on farm business. In 2005 he and Judith moved to Classic Residence on Connecticut Ave, where she passed away later that year. He loved listening to classical music, swimming every day, making Dagwood sandwiches, good food, wine and conversation, as well as travelling to visit friends and family and see the world. He was a lifetime member of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and a longtime member of the Order of St. John, which involved lots of volunteer work. At the April 24, 2010 gala for Community Family Life Services he was honored with a leadership award, as a supporter and volunteer extraordinaire for this organization that helps the homeless. He is survived by his daughter, Anita von Oppenfeld (Steve Wells), his son Rolf von Oppenfeld (Barbara0), grandchildren Alex Wells, Julia, Christian, Erika, Aren and Brigitte von Oppenfeld, nephews and nieces Michael von Oppenfeld (Georgina), Christa Engel (Manfred), and Karin Persson (Hans-Georg) in Europe, and Allen Hopkins (Joan), Judy Tomkinson (Jeff), John Hopkins, and Andy Hopkins of Rochester, N.Y. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 11th at 3:30 pm at the German Lutheran Church, 5500 Massachusetts Ave, Bethesda, MD 20816. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested a donation to CFLS, 305 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 or www.cflsdc.org. An online obituary may be found at www.legacy.com/funerals/Rapp-SilverSpring/.
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