Posted by Bill Paul on Aug 01, 2018
Rotarian Dieter Thomas passed away suddenly from a heart attack, on June 23, 2018. He was 76 years old. 
An immigrant from Germany, Dieter was an architect and well-known in his adopted country for having designed several award-winning homes. He joined the Redondo Beach Rotary Club in 2008 and volunteered in several capacities. Among his service to the club, he served as a volunteer architect on the Redondo Beach Veterans Memorial Task Force. The group spearheaded a project to build a memorial to area servicemen in Veterans Park in Redondo Beach.
In 2013, Dieter filled the role of Santa Claus on the annual Redondo Beach Christmas Police Department sleigh. When he rode the sleigh through the streets, and the sleigh stopped every couple of blocks for the children to sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas, one little boy said, "Isn't that Dieter?" The child asked his Mom why Dieter was playing Santa.  She came up with the best story. "Well, Santa was stuck back east and wasn't going to get here on time, so he called Dieter because he knew they looked a lot alike and asked if Dieter would be his substitute."
Well, thank goodness the Mom shared the story with us, because the next time we saw the little boy he came right out and asked Dieter, "Did Santa really call you?"  And of course, Dieter said "Absolutely. The real Santa did not want to disappoint all the children, so I listened to all the wishes and reported them back to the real Santa." 
Dieter is survived by three children, two sons-in-law, three granddaughters,  and his beloved partner, Dottie Hashizumi. “He was such a wonderful, caring, kind and gentle man.  He will be sorely missed.  I’m so happy he was in my life for nine year.” She added, “On August 11th, his 2 daughters, 2 of his 3 granddaughters and 1 son-in-law and I will take his ashes out to sea.”