Joseph William Niermann, aged 73, died at home in Annapolis, MD on Saturday, August 10th, 2019 of heart failure. Born in Madison, Wisconsin to Herman Bernard and Harriet Elizabeth Forge Niermann on October 3rd, 1945, he is survived by his wife of fifty years, Eleanor McKay, their daughters Eleanor Mary and Claire Catherine, daughter in law Ryan Sporre, all of Annapolis, Maryland. His surviving sibling, sister, Patricia Ann Sklors, nieces Rachel and Nicole, reside in Sequim, Washington. His sister in law Mary Niermann, widow of William Robert Niermann, resides in Faribault, Minnesota.
Although Joe Niermann started his career in the insurance industry, he developed a passion for handmade porcelain, pottery, furnishings and other antiques. Joe’s deep interest in the finishes on fine antiques led him to volunteer to help the restoration curators at the Wisconsin Historical Society. This, in turn, led him to start his own restoration business in 1971. Joe soon discovered that if most furniture could be restored while maintaining the structural integrity and preserving the original finish, antiques could be copied and reinterpreted into fresh, new designs.
Joe met his wife Eleanor in Madison, Wisconsin, when she was studying for her master’s degrees in information science and history. They married, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and founded Niermann Weeks in 1978. While they were restoring a twenty-plus room mansion in Memphis, Joe used the backyard carriage house for the business. The ground floor served as the main studio. Joe conducted all of the sales from the mansion’s butler’s pantry and Eleanor contributed historical and technical research.
In 1984, six years after its founding, Niermann Weeks moved to Annapolis, Maryland, where it was incorporated in 1985. Joe continued as principal designer until his retirement a decade ago. The family business continues to operate with Joe and Eleanor’s daughters, Eleanor and Claire Niermann continuing his design legacy with help from company President, Justin Binnix.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Lodge at Heritage Harbor, 959 River Strand Loop, Annapolis, MD 21401 on Saturday, September 21, 2019 from 2 to 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Joe’s memory to The American Heart Association. An online guest book is available at the John M. Taylor Funeral Home website.