Werner Sebastian Heinrich Storch

November 24, 1930 – December 15, 2023


Last updated 1/16/2024 at 10:10am

Werner Sebastian Heinrich Storch

Our beloved husband, dad, uncle and grandfather Werner left us suddenly on December 15, 2023. He had recently celebrated his 93rd birthday - quite a milestone!

Werner Sebastian Heinrich Storch was born November 24, 1930, in Tiefenort, Germany. The oldest of four children, he was quickly followed by Hannelore, Heinz and Anneliese. The family ran a butcher shop - a business that Werner was expected to overtake. In October 1948, however, at age 17, Werner had an argument with his father so severe that his father demanded he leave. He left with only the clothes on his back, 10 German marks and a cardboard briefcase. This was three years after the end of World War II, and he knew that he needed to head to the West to avoid being caught in what would soon become East Germany. Werner escaped by train and was helped by family in the West to start a new life. He worked as a bricklayer in Aachen before pursuing his love for math, geometry, physics and chemistry at the Ingenieurschule fur Bauwesen in Berlin, where he earned his engineering degree. After graduating in 1955, Werner obtained a job in Duesseldorf. This is where he learned of The World Council of Churches accepting applications to immigrate. They were looking for candidates that escaped from behind the "Iron Curtain." His application was selected by The Rose City Methodist Church. So, in 1957, he and his first wife, Gitta, boarded a ship to the USA, ending their journey in Portland, Oregon.

Werner's first job was working for Pacific Northwest Bell, but his goal was to become a civil and structural engineer. Though he spoke little English, he studied when he could to take the Professional Engineer's Exam — a 16-hour exam that had a 60 percent failure rate. Although the English-German dictionary he was allowed to use was missing most of the "E" section, he passed the exam on his first try. While living in Portland, Werner and Gitta had four children- Andrea, Craig, Danielle and Tyson.

Werner was able to start Storch Corporation Engineers in 1960. He started with two employees, which soon grew to 20. He helped design and build steel and grain mills, cement plants, and perhaps most famously, Portland's Fremont bridge. For several years this was the longest free span bridge in the world. He had projects in Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Alaska and Ohio. Then came international projects in China, Germany, Indonesia and the Philippines.

In July of 1991, Werner married Dolores O'Conner, bringing two more sons into the family - Scott and Mark. Werner and Dolores were happily married for over 32 years. They enjoyed remodeling various homes in Central Oregon, Washington, and California. They traveled extensively, returning often to Germany, and participating in the 875th birthday celebration of the city of Tiefenort.

Werner enjoyed reading, classical music, traveling, fly fishing and spending time with his family. Werner leaves behind his beloved wife Dolores, children Andrea (Jeff), Craig (Norma), Danielle (Kevin), Tyson (Melissa), Scott and Mark (Julie Anne) and nine grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be held at Black Butte Ranch in Sisters, Oregon on August 10, 2024. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude's Hospital for Children.

"What was once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose. For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us." - Helen Keller


Reader Comments(1)

SowerDough writes:

Werner was a great addition to Portland's business community, and a wonderful banking client of mine in the '70's and '80's .He put his heart into his projects throughout the world. A fine human, business person, and community member. I am delighted he had a full and productive life. By good fella


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