Heiner Walter Meldner died peacefully at his home near Lake Tahoe on May 24, 2019. He was born on May 21,1939 in Koenigsberg/Prussia, Germany (now present day Russia), the second of four children. He spent his boyhood satisfying his endless curiosity, taking things apart to learn the secrets of how they worked. He loved flying and spent his teenage summers flying gliders. He was at home in the clouds.
In 1965 he obtained a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Frankfurt, West Germany, followed by two years at the University of California, Berkeley on a NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship. He became an Associate Professor at Frankfurt University of West Berlin in 1967, followed by an Associate Professor at the University of California, San Diego in 1971 and he became a U.S. Citizen shortly thereafter. During his time in San Diego he developed an interest in sailing, met Lowell North and became a consultant to North Sails where he was instrumental in developing proprietary sail design codes which tested sails digitally. He met his wife, Valerie, at this time. Over the next decade he worked at Lawrence Livermore National Lab on the development of a number of classified weapons concepts. His love of flying continued, and weather permitting, he flew to work in Livermore from his home on the coast in the Bay Area.
Heiner was daring in all that he did. Retiring early from his career in Livermore, he turned his passion for sailing into a career designing America’s Cup racing yachts. He participated in several successful America’s Cup campaigns around the world; most notably the winning 1992 America 3 campaign out of San Diego Yacht Club, skippered by Bill Koch. America 3 raced with Cuben Fiber sails, a high-performance non-woven composite sail material Heiner helped design. Later he co-founded both Cuben Fiber Corp. and Cubic Tech Corp. which manufactured the light weight composite material and he helped author a number of related patents. Cuben Fiber is now widely used outside the sailing industry in outdoor climbing, cycling shoes, tents, and various other hi-tech products. In 2015, he retired as CEO of Cuben Fiber & Cubic Tech.
Heiner was a man with lots to say, loved engineering, was entertaining, secretive at times, outrageously funny in unintentional ways, opinionated, competitive and tempted by mischief when bored. His huge heart always filled up others with his optimism, ideas and feelings of hope. He loved racing and even on skis he continued to qualify for the NASTAR Nationals well into his seventies. He carried a sense of strength and perseverance in all that he did, truly exemplifying this throughout his life including his later years when his health became fragile.
He is survived by his wife, Valerie, of 42 years, his son Chris Meldner & daughter in law, Gina, daughter Bridget Anello & son in law, Dan, 4 grandchildren, Samantha, Joe, James Meldner & Chloe Anello, also a niece, Kristen Fincham. As well, he is survived by two brothers, Volker & Dietmar Meldner and his sister Heidrun Goppl, brother in laws, Steve and Jeff Carmichael and sister in law Susan Carmichael.
Service for Heiner Meldner on Friday, May 31 at 2pm at Village Church, 736 McCourry Blvd, Incline Village, NV 89451.