Watchung Rescue Squad

Walter Niegisch


Saturday, June 4, 2016 Members of the Watchung Rescue Squad will be attending a celebration of life service to honor Walter D. Niegisch at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, at Faith Lutheran Church, 524 South St. in New Providence. Walter was a Distinguished Life Member of our organization and an inspiration to those whom he encountered. We honor his service to the Borough of Watchung and the Watchung Rescue Squad.

Walter's Obituary: 

Research scientist at Union Carbide and patent holder in mass spectrometry; one of the original N.J. EMTs and veteran officer of Watchung Rescue Squad who led the unit during period of innovation.

On Jan. 6, 2016, Walter D. Niegisch lost a courageous battle with a debilitating neurological illness. Born June 20, 1929, in Atlantic City, N.J., Walt leaves behind a legacy of devotion to family and community. The son of German immigrants, he grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended Columbia University, earning an undergraduate degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Science followed by a graduate degree in physical chemistry from the Stevens Institute of Technology. Walt served in the U.S. Army for two years from 1954 to 1956, where his knowledge as a scientist was instrumental in the development of food preservation. After discharge, he worked for Union Carbide for more than 42 years, retiring in 1994 as senior research scientist. During his tenure at Union Carbide, Walt authored numerous scientific papers in the field of physical chemistry and had many patents to his name as a pioneer in the use of mass spectrometry.

Outside of his profession, his volunteer work with scouting, the Watchung Rescue Squad, and his church was particularly rewarding for him. He was an active member of the Watchung Rescue Squad for 33 years, joining in 1977. He served in many capacities on the board, including being elected for three terms as president. Walt was one of the first volunteer responders in New Jersey to earn his EMT certification. He was also a pioneer in the development of an extrication team for the squad. For his dedication to the Watchung Rescue Squad, Walt received the Distinguished Member Award in 1994, was a Distinguished Life Member, and was honored by the state of New Jersey as Volunteer of the Year in 2007.

His devotion to the community was not limited to membership in the Watchung Rescue Squad. For 10 years, he was an active leader in the Boy Scouts. As a longtime member of Faith Lutheran Church, he put his building and construction knowledge to good use working for Habitat for Humanity and in Appalachia building facilities for those in need. Walt's talents extended to his hobbies, including photography and tennis. As an avid photographer, he once won a New York Times photography contest.

He leaves behind his devoted wife of 60 years, Eleanor; son, Robert W. Niegisch and his wife, Carol; daughter, Karen Graboyes and her husband, Fred, and grandchildren, Kate, Megan, Luke, and Michael.

He will be missed for his tenacious strength of character, perseverance, and dedication to his family, friends, and neighbors. Donations may be made in his honor to the Watchung Rescue Squad.

Published in Star-Ledger on Jan. 17, 2016