Hans Friedrich Regh, born in Duisburg, Germany on November 2, 1926, passed away peacefully in Copper Canyon, Texas, May 3, at the home of his daughter Anne and her husband Gary Whiteman, with his wife Winifred Ann Regh, the daughter of the late Eric Winfred and Lucy Morton Rodgers of Scotland Neck, NC, by his side.
Hans (“Hanfried”, or “Hank” as he later became known) was reared in Duisburg, Germany and attended college preparatory school at the Guenther Ross Oberschule where he received his Abitur. His youthful interests included the study of languages, history, sculling, and what would become a life-long love of “fußball”. Conscripted by the German Army in 1944 at age 17, he was sent to the Western Front in northeastern France, where he took part in the Battle of the Bulge. Several months later Hans was involved in the Ruhr Pocket battle, where he was captured near Dortmund by the US Army. He was sent to work in a hospital in Belgium and later to a US Army POW camp in Liege, Belgium. Conversant in several languages and feigning knowledge of how to work a switchboard, he was selected to work as an operator and clerk. He escaped in early May 1946, by typing up his own travel orders, identity papers and arranging for a US officer he had befriended to leave his uniform on the office coat rack for Hans to use. He also arranged for a bicycle to be placed just outside the office door… he innocently rode out of the camp wishing the MP guards a good day. He headed to Paris to stay with friends.
Although the war was over, he was unable to be repatriated to Germany, and living in fear of being discovered by the occupying Allied Forces he boarded a train to Spain. Near Tarbes, France, US Army MPs boarded the train in a random check of identities, he escaped again by jumping from the train. He walked from southern France, across the Pyrenees, forded the Gave d’Aspe river with his clothes and boots on his head, and slept among sheep to keep warm. Heading down towards Pamplona he fell into the hands of the Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and was interned at the infamous Miranda de Ebro Concentration Camp. Upon his release in early 1947, and “stateless”, he moved to Madrid. There he worked for TWA and studied law at the University of Madrid for two years under the assumed identity of a White Russian émigré, Hanfried Regh Nikolaeff. Upon his eventual return to Germany, he attended the University of Tübingen where he received his German law degree.
He met his future wife in Tübingen, “Winnie”, a Southern girl from Scotland Neck, North Carolina. Winnie had been working as a teacher in Paris, France and was visiting Tübingen with a friend. She told him about Southern life, the fields of cotton and tobacco, the newspaper plant her father owned, and described the small town she came from. Fascinated by all things American, including his new wife, whom he married on 15 August 1953 in the Black Forest, Germany he and Winnie set off for New York City. Hans proudly became an American citizen in 1956 while attending the University of Virginia School of Law and graduated from there with an LLB in 1957.
In his professional life, he worked in the travel industry in several capacities. Upon graduation he worked for United States Travel Agency and as Assistant to the President of Caribbean Cruise Lines. In 1961, he went to work for the United States Travel Service, (USTS), an agency in the US Commerce Department charged with promoting travel to the United States, working as Director of USTS regional offices in Frankfurt, West Germany; Bogota, Colombia; and Caracas, Venezuela. He later rose to the rank of Managing Director of the Office of Program Services and Development in Washington D.C. In 1979. Hans and Winnie later formed Hans Regh Associates. Located in Frankfurt, Germany their consultancy firm provided marketing and promotional services to US travel entities.
With their five children in tow, Hank and Winnie’s travels to various countries allowed them to teach their children so much, not the least of which was acceptance and appreciation of different cultures and people. Hank’s triumph over the odds set a high bar for his children. Free of prejudices he always sought to find the good in people through mutual respect and a genuine interest in their story. He was as forthright as he was tactful, full of wonder as he was of knowledge and was generous to a fault. No one embraced life as fully and joyfully as Hank, he had a smile that could warm the coldest heart. He bewitched people from all walks of life earning him friends in spades. He had an infectious positive cheerful nature, an incredible wit and always had a joke in store. He was a glorious father, a fun-loving and mischievous friend to his children, a trusted colleague in business, a source of reliance to all, and above all, a husband, with great love for his wife.
Hans is preceded in death by his father, Johann, a Ruhr Industrialist, Elizabeth, his stepmother, and a brother Paul. With his departure, he leaves his wife Winnie of nearly sixty-six years, and his five children, Arzin and her husband Mickey Adair, Eric Regh, Anne and her husband Gary Whiteman, Jeanne and her partner Steffen Robertson, Emily and her husband Wayne Fisher, as well as five grandchildren: Anna (Ryan), Katie, Jeremy, Daniel and Amanda.
Funeral arrangements have been made with Letchworth-Sykes Funeral Service in Scotland Neck, NC. A burial service will be held on a later date, at the Old Trinity Episcopal Church in Scotland Neck, NC. His travels end in a small town in North Carolina with the knowledge his wife will eventually join him there… her hometown!