Friedrich Helmut Johannes Puls, “Fritz,” age 96, a resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, passed away on June 21, 2022. He was born in Eisenach, on November 18, 1925, just a couple of miles from the Wartburg Castle in the center of Germany.
Fritz’s father had invented one of the first automatic transmissions for trucks and started a business called Pulsgetriebe. He moved the business to Birmingham, England and then to Leipzig, Germany, where Fritz and his younger brothers Wolfgang and Jürgen were raised and went to school. In Leipzig, Fritz attended the St. Thomas School where at Easter, he sang in the famous St. Thomas Boys Choir performing the work of Johann Sebastian Bach.
In the last years of WWII, Fritz was drafted into the German Navy at age 18, attended the Naval Academy and served on several ships. After the war he moved to his grandparents’ home in Hamburg. Then, in 1946, he moved to Karlsruhe, Germany to study engineering and chemistry where he earned his PhD from Karlsruhe University in 1954. While a student he met the love of his life, Traudel, and they married in 1955. The newly wed couple moved to Hamburg, where Fritz had taken his first job with Shell.
The couple lived in Hamburg for five years, during which Fritz changed jobs to work for Esso A.G. and where their first son Fred, was born. In 1960, Fritz moved to the USA with his young family and began a new phase of his career at the Esso Research Center in New Jersey. This led to him working for almost ten years at Rockefeller Center in New York City where he became a charter member of Esso Chemical Company in 1963. During this time, they lived in New Jersey where their daughter Cornelia, “Connie” and their youngest son Carsten were born. In 1971, the family moved to Hong Kong for a two-year assignment. After a short return to the US, they moved again for two years to live in Brussels, Belgium. In 1976, the family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Fritz worked in chemical research and pilot plant construction at Exxon.
In Baton Rouge, the family joined Trinity Lutheran Church. Fritz served as Sunday School teacher, became its principal for a two-year term, and served as an elder for several terms. Fritz enjoyed traveling with his family in the summers and waterskiing with his children throughout the year. All three children completed bachelor degrees at LSU and masters at Purdue, LSU, and UT Austin, respectively.
At Fritz’s retirement party, his Exxon Chemical VP said: “Fritz was best known for his pioneering work for what has become the very successful Intermediates business including the appropriation of the Baton Rouge Plasticizer Plant, a monumental decision in the history of Intermediates; his efforts in coordinating the businesses of 15 affiliates in the Asia Pacific Region into a coherent regional organization, and the establishment of a “Vinyls” business in Europe with world-scale manufacturing facilities at Rotterdam. During his last 18 years, Fritz held the position of its first Commercial Catalyst Coordinator, being a single entry point to Exxon for catalyst vendors, and coordinating R&D, commercialization, and pioneering quality control efforts for catalysts on a worldwide basis. Fritz also founded and led the HydroProcessing Network (HPN) with active participation by Exxon Chemical, Exxon Research & Development Laboratories, Exxon Engineering, Exxon Europe, Imperial Oil and others. Within Exxon and industry, Fritz became known as a true “Industry Authority,” for his relentless advocacy of quality principles, and for his creative leadership of the HPN. Fritz’s work ethics and integrity have earned him the respect of his colleagues within Exxon and in the business community. He left behind his creation that will contribute to Exxon’s business for years to come, and many friends and colleagues who hold him in the highest regard.” Fritz earned Exxon’s BCIT-Intermediates Americas Lifetime Achievement Award and Exxon Chemical Performance Products President’s Award “Maximizing Employee Contribution” in 1993.
In 1998, at the age of almost 73, Fritz retired and moved back to New Jersey. He and Traudel enjoyed retirement as “snow birds,” spending half-years in Baton Rouge and New Jersey. The couple joined the Deutscher Club of Clark, NJ, where they enjoyed dining and dancing often, as well as participating in singing concerts. In 2005, Fritz and Traudel celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their old church in Karlsruhe, together with all of their children and grandchildren, brothers and sisters and their families. Throughout his retirement, Fritz loved to travel, taking regular trips to explore new places and visit family.
Just after his 95th birthday, Fritz underwent an innovative heart valve surgery which extended his enthusiasm and zest for life. The valve manufacturer featured Fritz and his successful surgery in a company news article, of which he was very proud. Fritz loved driving his car, enjoyed grocery shopping, cooking fish, and going out to eat for raw oysters and cajun food until just a few weeks ago.
Fritz is survived by his loving spouse of 67 years, Edeltraude “Traudel” Puls, their three children and their spouses, seven grand-children, four nephews and their spouses and children. Fritz is preceded in death by his parents, two brothers and their spouses, and his sister-in-law and her spouse.
A Service in celebration of Fritz’s life will take place on Monday June 27th at 11 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church. Visitation will take place at Resthaven Gardens of Memory and Funeral Home following the service and Burial will follow.
Flowers may be sent to Resthaven Gardens of Memory and Funeral Home (www.resthavenbatonrouge.com) or in lieu of flowers please make donations to Trinity Lutheran Church (www.tlcbr.org).
The family wishes to extend our sincere thanks to St. James Place, The Baton Rouge General doctors and staff, Clarity Hospice for their care and help, his heart surgeon Dr. Antoine Keller, his long-time physician Dr. Kevin Babin at the Baton Rouge Clinic, and Shayne Marcantel CNA.