John Mau

John Mau

July 30, 1929 July 15, 2020

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Obituary for John Christian Mau

John Christian Mau, loving husband and father, died of natural causes in Ann Arbor, Michigan on July 15, 2020. Throughout his nearly 91 years, John was ever curious about science and technology and passed down this curiosity to his children.

John was born on July 30, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan to Fred and Josephine (Lutz) Mau. Growing up mostly on farmland outside of St. Clair, he had a lively childhood swimming, sledding, ice skating, pheasant hunting, fishing and farming. He had an aptitude for math and science and learned construction skills and carpentry from his father, who had a construction business with his brother until the depression. John graduated valedictorian and class president from St. Clair High School in 1947, but turned down a college scholarship to work at Chris-Craft Boat Works in Algonac along with his father. After a year of working and saving money, and a year attending Port Huron Junior College, he enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1949. There he met the love of his life, Norma Jean Diamond, a Nursing major from Alpena, whom he met at the Lutheran Student Center. His life would never be the same.

John was drafted into the Marine Corps in 1951 and received his basic Marine Corps training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During the Korean Conflict, he was stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego where he attended radio school, learning to install and operate temporary radio transmission sites. His radio training eventually led to his long and varied career at General Telephone and Electric (GTE). He spent 2 years in active duty and later spent two years in the reserves.

After leaving the Marine Corps in 1953, John re-enrolled at the University of Michigan on the GI Bill and was reunited with Norma who was working at UM Hospital. John and Norma were married on September 4, 1954 in Alpena and honeymooned at Niagara Falls and New York City. After graduating in December 1955 with a Masters in Electrical Engineering, John moved his young family of three to Muskegon, Michigan where he went to work for GTE, specializing in the installation of microwave transmission towers. While in Muskegon, the family grew to a total of six. In January 1963, the family “transferred” to Elmhurst Illinois where John took a special research assignment with GTE’s Automatic Electric Lab. In 1965, he became the head of GTE’s expanding Office Phone Systems department in Tampa, Florida and “transferred” his family to Clearwater, Florida. He eventually became head of the 600-person Installation & Repair division, whose territory served the entire west coast of Florida. John was admired by his employees as well as their spouses, one of whom said she wished that her husband would talk about her with the same admiration as he did about John.

A natural born teacher, John was a Scoutmaster while in Elmhurst and in Clearwater, and taught Sunday School at St. Paul Lutheran Church. He also taught technical courses to GTE employees from offices around the country. An avid sailor, John was an active member of the Optimists Club, where he taught eager young sailors how to sail small sailboats. He enjoyed taking his children out on his 11-foot Sparkler and teaching them the finer points of sailing in the Intercostal Waterway. He sailed competitively against other Sparkler owners as well as crewed on larger sailboats that competed in the Gulf of Mexico.

John spent many hours tinkering in his garage, mostly working on his beloved 1965 Ford station wagon and 1966 VW beetle. Many memorable family trips were taken in the Ford, including, Key West, Everglades, and historical sites in the DC area. Family vacations were almost always spent in Alpena visiting Norma’s parents on their Michigan Centennial Farm helping to bale hay, tend cattle, pick stones, repair farm equipment, and attend family gatherings. The final trip with the entire family in 1975 included pulling a small “Scotty” camper trailer to visit Oak Creek, Grand and Bryce Canyons and National Parks including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Mount Rushmore. John and Norma also went on fun weekend trips with other “adult” members of St. Paul’s, many of whom became lifelong friends.

John was transferred once again in 1981 to Lexington, Kentucky to head GTE’s cell phone research group when the technology was in its infancy. He and Norma settled on 3.5 acres of land in horse country with a barn for a garage. He enjoyed tinkering in the garage, riding his mower, and tending the large garden. John and Norma hosted many a Derby party in their home, where with his love of numbers, John took the bets and doled out the winnings. He also served two years as the Financial Secretary for Faith Lutheran Church, where John and Norma made many more lifelong friends.
John retired from GTE in 1987, which gave him even more time to “mess with the computer” as well as square dance with Norma, deliver Meals on Wheels, repair radios for the blind and become active in the Korean War Veterans of America. They also went on many trips overseas including China, Japan, Europe, and the Middle East, both with family and Elderhostel. One trip of note was a vacation in Australia and New Zealand with, their son Mark, daughter Debbie and her husband, Norma’s brother and sister-in-law, and their son Ted.

The acreage in Kentucky eventually became too much to handle and John and Norma decided to move to a condominium in the Glacier Hills Senior Living Community in Ann Arbor in 2012. They became active in the community and made many friends. They would dress up for Halloween and play bocce ball, corn hole, and pool. John was known as the pool shark “Kentucky Slim” and was requested by the women’s pool group to teach them how to improve their play.

In early 2017 John suffered a severe stroke and 1.5 years later broke his femur which prompted he and Norma to move into a quasi-assisted living apartment in late 2018. John was able to get around with a walker and wheelchair, but his pride and joy was his scooter which sported a headlight, break lights, turn signals, and a horn. Unfortunately, having never fully recovered from his initial stroke, his body gradually shut down and now he is with God in heaven.

John is survived by his wife Norma and son Mark Mau of Ann Arbor, MI (married to Kathy Bonds) and daughters Debbie McKinley of Greenbelt, MD (married to Bob Nelson); Karen Faulkner of Paris, KY (married to Beach Faulkner); and Christine Mau of Grosse Pointe Woods, MI. John is also survived by his siblings Mary Kummer of Santa Monica, CA, Albert Mau of San Jose, CA and Walter Mau of Sacramento, CA. He was preceded in death by his older brother Richard in 1990.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Arbor Hospice: or

Zion Lutheran Church

or Glacier Hills Foundation:

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Service Details

  • Private Service

    Monday July 20, 2020 | 12:00pm
    Zion Lutheran Church
    1501 W. Liberty Street
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email |
    Monday July 20, 2020
    Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, visitation and services will be private, but will be streamed over the internet and can be found at
    Rev. Jim Debner
  • Interment

    Monday July 20, 2020 | 1:30pm
    Forest Hill Cemetery
    415 South Observatory
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email |
    Monday July 20, 2020
    We will have Military Honors with a rifle salute


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Mary McCormick

I am so saddened to hear of John's passing. Of course, I knew you better than John, helping you to take care of Mrs. Downs in her last days. You were so aattentive to her and helped her a great deal at difficult times due to your nursing background. My dear Jim died this spring so I too am alone now. it is a sad time, but I know you have many friends and family that will support you in this time. Our dear Lord will also help you to keep on an even keel during these difficult times.
Comment | Posted at 12:02pm via Condolence


Your sentiments mean a great deal to Mom.
Posted at 04:57pm

Elizabeth Hunter

We met John and Norma when we moved to "the country" two doors down from them. We became good friends over the years helping each other in times of need and enjoying holiday meals together. I especially remember John pulling my riding mower loose from places I should never have taken it and then gently telling me not to try that path again. Our prayers are with all of you.
Elizabeth and Linda
Comment | Posted at 11:49am via Condolence


I never heard about the riding mower rescues. Thank you for being dear friends of Dad and Mom.
Posted at 04:55pm

Judy Koprowski

Dear Debbie &Bob: I am so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. Our sincere sympathy to your family. You will be in our prayers. Hugs, Judy &Ned
Comment | Posted at 01:28pm via Condolence

Debbie McKinley

Thank you. It is comforting to know that I and the rest of my family are being lifted up in prayer.
Posted at 05:20pm

Michael Kanotz

Met John via telephone in 1968 when I was working for GTE in Indiana. Had several occasions to meet him in person during business meetings and schools until he joined GTE/ESD in Lexington in 1981. Never met a finer gentleman or more professional engineer in my life. Partnered with and against him at the card table for years as well as sharing many delightful outings in the Adventure club he and Norma started in Lexington. I have considered John a blessing since 1981. If I get to heaven I know he will be guarding the streets and I will gladly relieve him. Semper Fi fellow Marine.
mike kanotz
Comment | Posted at 12:06pm via Condolence

Debbie McKinley

I wasn't sure until now what your connection was with Dad other than a fellow card player. He was a formidable opponent at cards or any game he played. Thank you so much for sharing your memories.
Posted at 05:19pm

Gary F Willett

I had the honor and pleasure of working with John from 1981 until his 1987 retirement at the GTE Evaluation & Support Department (ESD) laboratory in Lexington KY. John was more than a co-worker - he was a true mentor, always available to answer questions or show the math and science behind anything to us young whippersnappers! It's been over 30 years now, but I still remember John (Norma too!) with great fondness. Semper Fi and Godspeed!

Gary & Paula Willett
Irving TX
Comment | Posted at 05:22pm via Condolence

Debbie McKinley

So wonderful to hear from someone who knew Dad in a work environment. We kids were not part of that world, and your recollections round out the type of person Dad was.
Posted at 05:17pm

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