Dr. Guenther Mayer-Harnisch, 96, of Arroyo Grande passed away peacefully at home on April 15, 2018. He grew up in Germany and joined the German navy in 1940. He served with an anti-aircraft unit on an island in the North Sea and was ultimately transferred to the Baltic Sea aboard a training sailing ship called the Horst Wessel. In 1945 he was discharged from the navy with the rank of lieutenant. He then worked his way through medical school at the University of Hamburg as a night watchman, graduating in 1951.
He met his future wife Anneliese while both were attending medical school. In 1952 they were married and emigrated to the United States, where from 1952-1954 Guenther was a staff physician at the Fairview Home for the developmentally challenged in Salem, Oregon. In 1957 he completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Emmanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon and moved to Santa Barbara, California to complete his residency in general practice at Santa Barbara General Hospital. In 1958 he opened his solo practice in general and family medicine in Pismo Beach, California.
What became apparent early on, and continued throughout his career, was his selfless dedication to his patients. He was well known for making house calls at any hour. This caring attitude extended to everyone. In 1969 he served as a field physician for Amigos de Las Americas (similar to Doctors Without Borders), helping the indigenous people of Guatemala. In 1972 he became a member of the San Luis Medical Clinic, specializing in family practice. He was also chief of staff for Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in 1978.
In 1993, semi-retired, he had a part-time practice with the Central Coast Family Practice Clinic in San Luis Obispo, California. He was a member of the San Luis Obispo County Medical Association, the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association, and was a charter member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. In 2004 he was honored with the Society Group Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award from the California State Legislature.
Guenther was also a devoted believer in the Baha’i Faith, which believes in the unity of God, the fundamental unity of all religions and the unity of mankind, a prerequisite for the establishment of peace on this planet. He and Anneliese were very active in the Faith, hosting many meetings over the years and promoting it in countries throughout the world. In 1970 he was selected to be a delegate to travel to Wilmette, Illinois to elect the nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States.
He had many other interests as well, including the fine arts, music, literature and sailing (he was commodore of the San Luis Yacht Club in 1974). He had a wonderful sense of humor and was a joy to be around.
Guenther is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anneliese; sister Ilse Mayer of Hamburg, Germany; son Tom (Susanne) of Pleasanton, CA; daughter Claudia of Arroyo Grande, CA; grandson Thomas (Wanwisa) of Pleasant Hill, CA; granddaughter Vanessa of Sacramento, CA; great-granddaughter Layla of Pleasant Hill, CA and niece Christina Mayer of Berlin, Germany. He was predeceased by his father Dr. Alfred Mayer, mother Ilse Mayer, and brother Heinrich Mayer.
A private funeral service was held on April 20 in Arroyo Grande. A public Celebration of Life will be held at the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande at 11 a.m. on August 25, 2018.