Marvin Teutsch ’56
The life of Marvin Teutsch ’56 is one of real and symbolic explosive moments — his real-life Homecoming explosion which landed him in the U of M hospital for three weeks, the launch of successful businesses and the energy and strength behind a marriage that has lasted 57 years. Today, this self-proclaimed night owl (he thrives in the hours between 4 p.m. and 5 a.m.) is enjoying life in sunny Arizona and Mexico, surrounded by his family. Here is Marvin’s story in his own words:
“When I was in high school, we were not allowed to have fraternities. So, a group of friends formed a social club and stayed friends for years. When I graduated from Southeastern High in Detroit, I went to work in a small machine shop because I couldn’t afford college, even though I had a small scholarship. Three of my high school friends and I planned to take a senior trip to Mexico before college. In August, we quit our summer jobs and took off for Mexico City in a 1949 Chevy coupe. We had a ball for three weeks. When we headed home, we ran into a hurricane and had to detour almost a thousand miles through the mountains to get home. When we got home, I had 37 cents left. I went to work at Schwartz Boring company as an apprentice tool and die maker and registered for night school at Wayne University.
After one year at Wayne and Schwartz, I applied to U of M and was accepted. I was able to keep my job at Schwartz and work weekends, holidays and summers to pay my way through U of M.
At U of M, I lived in a single room in a dorm for a term and found it very lonely. The next term, I got a roommate from Hawaii, Louie Pang. I tried playing a ukulele (I was not very good). I then pledged DX. The next year, I moved into the house at 1705 Hill Street.
The first year in the house is kind of hazy because I was very busy getting used to the heavy schedule of classes, homework, all of the house activities — including dressing for dinner every night followed by games of Bridge — and driving to Detroit to work every weekend. I do remember that DX was a small house but a very close and friendly one. It was well organized and received a fair amount of help from local alumni. Friday night agendas included our Stinky Cheese Club meetings.
During my four years in the house, I built a new room in the basement with a secret space behind the bookcase to hide contraband. At one point, John Nicoara ’56, my roommate, and I decided that our room needed to be remodeled. We got to Ann Arbor a week or two early and put in an acoustic tile ceiling, sanded and varnished the floor and painted the walls a vivid maple red and green.
I think it was in my second year in the house that Gene Holcomb ’56 suggested that we should get a mascot. The vote was positive, and Gene said he would get a dog while he was home for the holidays in New York. He returned with a cute little dachshund puppy. I became dog chairman and for 40 years after graduation, my family has always had a pair of miniature dachshunds.
In my junior year, we built a Homecoming display that featured an atomic bomb explosion that wiped out the opposing team (I don’t remember who we were playing). As head of the display, I designed the bomb using black gun powder, white phosphorous, magnesium powder and potassium perchlorate with an electric fuse operated from a wall switch inside of the front door of the house. One of the brothers — I think it was Fred Pincoe ’54 — guarded the switch and turned it on when the judges came by. It worked perfectly several times. The house was crawling with parents, friends and guests, and as I was installing the electric fuse for the final blast, there was a flash. The bomb went off in my face, and I spent three weeks in the U of M hospital. After dropping two classes, I managed to catch up and finish the year. The next term, I carried 27 credit hours to be able to graduate in June.
After graduation, I went back to work in the tool and die shop. After a few months, I left to go to work for Radio Corp. of America (RCA), working on rocket launchers for F-101 fighter jets. This gave me a military deferment from the Korean War.
In March 1958, I was married to Margo Ballow, and I am happy to say that after 57 years and three sons, we are still very happy together.
After five years at RCA Detroit went into a big recession and moved the plant back to Camden, N.J. I declined to move back with two small boys and Margo. So, I took a job in the automotive industry until that folded. We then moved to Phoenix where I joined Nuclear Corp. of America and managed their automation and product development department.
After five years, I found that Arizona was not a stable work climate for engineers. Big companies were setting up plants to do surplus work, and in five years, before employees could be vested in pension plans, the plants were closed and moved elsewhere. Since we were very happy in Arizona, I moved around from job to job until I had to take early retirement from Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) in 1993.
After DEC, I started doing consulting and freelance product design. That led to the launch of a swimming pool safety business focused on the design and manufacture of automatic self-closing and locking doors leading to swimming pools. Arizona has many backyard pools, and child drowning has become an epidemic. The state passed pool safety laws, and our product satisfied that requirements of those laws. This business went very well for 15 years until the 2008-2009 financial fiasco. At that point, new home and pool building stopped. Right now, we are in the midst of rebuilding the business.
In the meantime, my oldest son, Chris, retired from Intel and invested in the door closer business KLOZIT Roltec Services, in our flip tray business and in a beachfront community in Mexico on the Sea of Cortez. We spend time at his house there when we can and love it. Right now, we are working hard to get things going again and relaxing by taking cruises that look interesting.
In 1996, I helped to re-establish the DX chapter at Arizona State University. The last I have heard, they are doing well except for a few wild parties that make the news. I do still stay in touch with John Nicoara and Paul DeMarrais ’56.
I would be happy to hear from my brothers, but I want to let you know that I am a confirmed night owl. I go to bed at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. MST and get up at 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. That is what happens to you when the daytime temperatures are above 100 degrees so often. If you can fit into that schedule, you can reach me at (602) 944-4148.”