The Hancock County Museum at 1008 Ridge Avenue, New Cumberland, WV, is honored to host Father John Neiman on July 16, 2023 at 2:00, who will present, as part of the HCM’s Summer Lecture Series, a talk describing how he met Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, whose discovery and publication of Anne Frank’s Diary is known and loved world-wide.
Father John Neiman was born on July 4, 1953 in Santa Monica, California. He was raised in Encino, CA. and later attended Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX where he earned a BA and a MA in history.
He entered Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo, CA and was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in February of 1986. Among those in attendance at his ordination were Miep and Jan Gies, who traveled all the way from Amsterdam for the ceremony.
Fr. John was very involved in Holocaust remembrance activities in the Los Angeles area for many years. He helped organize Holocaust education seminars for teachers and gave several talks at local schools and synagogues. In June of 1981 he attended the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Jerusalem and then the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Washington, DC in April of 1983.
He first met Otto and Fritzi Frank at their home in Birsfelden, Switzerland in June of 1976. Shortly after reading Anne Frank’s Diary, he contacted Otto Frank, who was very warm and welcoming, but stated he could not take on another correspondence because he was so very busy but ended the conversation with “If you are ever in the area please do stop in for a visit.” Father John immediately booked a trip to Amsterdam and arranged a brief visit that lasted several hours and developed into a remarkably close friendship with Otto and Fritzi. In fact, he credits them for inspiring him to become a priests
Fr. John served as an active priest in the Arch diocese of Los Angeles from 1986 until 2014, at which time he went on a medical leave of absence. After five surgeries, he retired in July of 2018, and, until recently, was living in Indian Wells, CA where he also cared for his ninety-seven year-old mother until she died. Upon retirement he chose the beautiful hills of West Virginia where his mother grew up in Moundsville, and that’s another interesting story – He has been “filling in” at many local parishes in the area as well as serving and enjoying the residents of The Peachtree Inn, keeping them all entertained with stories about his many travels, his keen sense of humor and funny things that happened along the way. The material today affords very little to amuse us, but perhaps we’ll save some of those stories for another time.