It was with great sadness that we learned of the sudden death of Dietmar Roth yesterday. Sharing our grief was the town of Vélez-Blanco (where we live) in Almería, the Comarca of Los Vélez, and entire communities and organisations of which Dietmar had been an integral part. Today we share with you our tribute to Dietmar Roth (1963-2021).
Dietmar Roth: One of life’s finest
When we first moved to Vélez-Blanco in 2016, Dietmar was one of the first people to welcome us into the community. The Deputy Mayor at the time, he was right at the town’s heart, working tirelessly on a large number of projects aimed at enhancing the area, educating people on its history and all while helping the planet with several ecological initiatives.
Over the ensuing years, we met with Dietmar many times and it was always an absolute pleasure. I will personally miss popping my head around his office door with a wave, or to grab a quick hug. He rescued me from my home when someone had blocked the entrance to the front door with their car. He took several groups of our friends on tours of the town (once in the pouring rain yet not once did his enthusiasm diminish), welcomed a group of Writers and Bloggers About Spain when we hosted a conference here in 2017 and helped with a unique musical project by Sound Matters. He was also instrumental in the launch and promotion of Alan’s photography exhibition, The People of Vélez-Blanco, which is now stored permanently in the Museo de Vélez-Rubio. Additionally he was a wedding officiant here, marrying many couples in the town castle. He was a real font of knowledge.
Dietmar knew almost everyone in the town and spent time introducing us all to each other so we could help each other too – a fabulous networker!
To the untrained eye, Dietmar had a formal demeanour, yet we were privy to his sense of humour on many an occasion. The twinkle in his eye and the little quirk of his lip when he was trying not to laugh; him trying to keep a straight face when he described to me his time as a punk rocker in Germany, and his Mohican hairdo. He was a great man who would do his utmost to ensure that everyone enjoyed living in, or visiting, our beautiful mountaintop town. Not once did we ever experience him being anything less than enthusiastic in his attitude; his knowledge of the area and its history is unsurpassed.
One of Dietmar’s most popular promotions was that of the Festival de Música Renacentista y Barroca de Vélez Blanco, which he organised and promoted each year. The festival was an occasion when many in the town would don costumes from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, musical events were held, a large feast was provided to the town for free.
Dietmar felt very strongly about “giving back”, he was extremely public spirited, and felt that through the skills and involvement with various projects in the past, he was able to serve the town, the area and indeed the planet, properly. We agree!
Dietmar Roth’s background
Born in Celle (near Hanover, Germany) in 1963, Dietmar studied History, Romance languages and Pedagogy in the Universities of Bremen, Cologne and Salamanca. He later gained a Doctorate in History at the University of Almería. He was an integral part of the Spanish branch of mibeg Consulting GmbH, the head of Edition Casa de los Arcos, S.L. and the administrative head of Fundación Horstmann. He was also responsible for institutional relations and networking at the Commonland Foundation in Spain, the vice president of the Velezanas Tourism Business Association, a member of the Surclío research group of the University of Almería, of the Department of History of the Institute of Almeria Studies, coordinator of the twinning between the natural parks of Sierra María-Los Vélez and Altmühltal, first deputy mayor and Councillor of Finance, Culture and Tourism of the municipality of Vélez Blanco since 2007, a member of the management committee of the Municipality of Vélez Municipalities since 2007 and president of the governing board of the PN Sierra María-Los Vélez since 2011.
This is not to mention his immense contribution and involvement with Al Velal (covering 10000 hectares in NE Andalucía and Southwest Murcia) – landscape restoration through business cases in agriculture and cattle breeding, resilience to the climate change, improvement of the biodiversity and productivity growth especially on almonds, aromatic herbs and lambs among others.
After working as a Spanish teacher in Germany, and while travelling between the two countries, Dietmar worked for an environmental organisation – a subject close to his heart. Sierra de María is twinned with a natural park in Germany called Altmühltal, a project he was working on at the time, as well as project managing Casa Arcos, a Spanish/German initiative, restoring the site as a conference and education centre… and which is now a real landmark and hotel in the town
Dietmar Roth’s true love
Dietmar met his Murcian wife, Ana María, the day he began his studies at Salamanca University and shared his time between Spain and Germany for eight years. They married and chose Vélez-Blanco as their home – and never left. One year he personally sponsored a Renaissance concert which he dedicated to his beloved wife. After retiring from public office, rarely would you see Dietmar out and about without Ana María, holding hands as they strolled to visit friends and enjoy the various things the town has to offer. They were also able to travel more, interspersed with research that Dietmar was carrying out for his next book. It was always a pleasure to see his photographs (which often featured his smiling wife) and hear about their experiences as they finally got to spend some quality time together, doing all the things they loved.
Dietmar in politics
A Socialist at heart, Dietmar first stood for election as a PSOE candidate in Vélez-Blanco in 2007. He then remained at the heart of the town’s politics until a couple of years ago when he and the Mayor retired. Putting aside any political allegiances, he and the council cared immensely about making things happen to improve the town and life for its residents – we saw real evidence of that and enjoyed the proactivity of the town hall in looking after us all. During his time in office, he was responsible for Finance, Culture and Tourism. All of this was alongside all his other projects – most of which were done without payment.
Tributes pouring in For Dietmar Roth
Within hours of Dietmar’s sudden death, tributes poured in from all over the area and from other countries. On Facebook feeds we have already seen many hundreds of messages, describing Dietmar as “a great man,” and referencing his “big heart”. I have no doubt that soon those messages will be in the thousands, if they haven’t already surpassed that.
The PSOE party in Vélez-Blanco of which Dietmar was a staunch supporter posted an immediate tribute to him, describing him as “a perfect inclusion in Velezana society”. The Ayuntamiento also responded with a number of events to mark their respect for this fine gentleman including an official day of mourning and the cessation of official public activities during that period.
Newspapers around Almería are already posting tributes to Dietmar, all extolling the virtues of this very fine gentleman.
Thank you Dietmar
There are so many things we can personally thank Dietmar Roth for, and the vast majority of people who met him will feel the same. This town, this comarca, this province and even planet earth lost one of its finest today.
Our hearts and warmest love go out to his wife, Ana María, to his family, his friends and his loved ones – all of whom will be feeling a massive hole in their lives now.
Thank you Dietmar for everything you have done, for everything you were, and for everything that will continue to be felt because of you. You will be sorely missed.