John M. Thalheimer was the first member of his family to earn a college degree, graduating from Lehigh in 1955 in metallurgy and materials engineering. He was president, scholastic chairman, and secretary of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. He was also a member of the Hillel Society, Pi Mu Epsilon honor society, Newtonian Society, Metallurgy Society, and American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
A year before graduating, he joined the family’s nonferrous scrap metal company, Thalheimer Brothers. It was founded in 1939 by his father and uncles, who were all recent immigrants from Germany. He became sole owner of the company in 1969.
Thalheimer and his wife, Joan, further advanced entrepreneurship programs at the university by creating the Thalheimer Entrepreneurship Ventures Endowed Program Fund in 2005. Since then, over 60 Lehigh students from all four colleges have been awarded grants during the annual Student Entrepreneurs Competition. In honor of his 50th reunion, the Thalheimers helped seed the endowment for the Financial Services Laboratory. Most recently, they named a civil and environmental engineering research laboratory in the STEPS facility.
The Thalheimers have supported several exhibitions and the establishment of a new Paintings Conservation Studio at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They are involved with the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, and Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Thalheimer served as a trustee of Abington Memorial Hospital and as president of Philmont Country Club.