Gerhard Peter Caspar Hilger
Gerhard Peter Caspar Hilger, “Peter” 91, of Sanibel, passed away on January 2, 2015. Peter was the youngest of four siblings born May 13, 1923, in Dusseldorf, Germany to Arnold and Emma (Luyken) Hilger. Peter met Hanna Dorothea von der Goltz in 1952. They became engaged after three days and had three children: Astrid, Peter and Stephen. Peter had an independent spirit, loved travel and collecting “people experiences.” His family had a history of living globally even in the mid-1800s, when four of five brothers were sent to live around the world (New York, China, Brazil and Russia) to further the family business, Gebrueder Hilger. Peter’s father was born in New York, then returned to Germany to live, where Peter was born. Peter visited the US several times, returning permanently with his young family. The family wanderlust extends to the current generation of eight grandchildren, three of which live abroad in Chile, Hong Kong and London, and one serves in the US Navy. Peter did corporate and legal work with German-American companies primarily in New York and North Carolina, then for Coors. He retired early to assist Hanna, an artist, with managing her Multiple Sclerosis until she passed away from the disease in 2000. They traveled extensively in the US, Canada and Alaska, where Peter also returned several times by motorcycle. During that time, he started writing, guided by his association with the Sanibel Writers’ Group One, with which he retained a lifelong connection. He published War Torn and was working on a second book. Peter was a founding member of the Sanibel Bike Club and helped establish Sanibel’s bike trail system. He was legendary on Sanibel for earning a speeding ticket while riding his bike one legged through the Ding Darling Bird Sanctuary and continued to ride until age 85. Peter is survived by his daughter Astrid Hilger Bennett (the late John Bennett), and her children Colin (Carolina, with son Nicolas Caspar); Hanna; and Ian. His son Peter Hilger (Rebecca) and their children Ryan (Heather, with daughter Charlotte); and Laura. And son Stephen (Deborah Richmond) and his daughters Emmi (Ben Melsky) and Kimberly and son Andrew (Mary Kathryn Redford); plus extended family in Europe and his friends of more than 63 years, Ray & Ruth Albright and Klaus Reese. A Celebration of Life service will be held February 14, 10:30am at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation or other organization of your choosing.