The first alumnus who represents this year’s honored Legacy Family was a member of the first graduating class of Heidelberg College back in 1854. Sixteen decades and close to 30 alumni later, the members of the Zartman-Diefenbach-Thompson Family have left their mark on Heidelberg since its founding days. Among their ranks have been theologians, educators, lawyers, businessmen, medical professionals, writers and homemakers.
The family’s legacy dates back to 1854 with the graduation of Rev. George Zartman Mechling, a pastor. A name we still mention today – Rev. Allen King Zartman – graduated in 1974, with a bachelor’s degree. He later earned his theology degree and his doctor of divinity degree and spent his career as a pastor. Allen married Elizabeth A. Conrad, Class of 1875, who was a homemaker. Their daughter, Josephine Conrad Zartman, a genealogist and author, received her diploma in 1901.
The connection between the Zartman and Diefenbach families was forged when Josephine married fellow Heidelberg graduate Howard Berleman Diefenbach, Class of 1899, who earned his theology degree in 1902 and also became a pastor. The ‘Berg family legacy continued with their son, Dr. Benjamin Conrad Diefenbach, who, following his Heidelberg graduation in 1933, enrolled in medical school at Case Western Reserve University, earning his M.D. degree four years later.
Dr. Benjamin Diefenbach’s daughter, Gale Ann, attended Heidelberg and although she did not graduate, she did send two sons to Heidelberg. Mark Thompson was in the Class of 1986 and works as a paramedic. Trevor Thompson graduated in with his bachelor’s degree in business administration 1989. While at Heidelberg, he was a member of Sigma Tau Nu. Trevor’s son, Kevin, is the most recent alumnus in the family tree, having earned two Heidelberg degrees, a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2016, and his MBA in 2017. Kevin was a track and field student-athlete and a member of Sigma Tau Nu and the business honorary Tau Pi Phi.
Overall, approximately eight Heidelberg alumni from the family were enrolled prior to the turn of the 20th century. The families’ histories are chronicled in three separate books. Rufus Calvin Zartman complied “The Zartman Family, which is in Beeghly Library. Henry Diefenbach is responsible for “John Baltser Diefenbach and His Descendants,” which was updated by Trevor Thompson’s great-grandmother, Josephine Conrad Zartman, 1901, the genealogist and author who also penned “Memoirs of the Life and Family of Rev. Allen King Zartman, D.D., in 1937.