Erich Gauglitz

From Karl and Phil Gauglitz:

It is with sadness that Karl and I want to let you know that our Dad, Erich J. Gauglitz, Jr., passed away peacefully and quietly at 91 years old on Sunday morning November 22, 2020, at his home in Lake Forest Park with both Karl and I together with him.  He was mentally very sharp all the way to the end, though his body had failed.  He enjoyed a quiet day at home with family on Saturday before passing overnight.  He will be missed, by many.

Dad asked that we let his friends and family know when he had passed.  He also asked that we have only a small private family memorial service, which we will do.

Below is the Obituary Notice that will run in the Sunday Seattle Times on December 6, 2020.

Had COVID not made it dangerous, Karl and I would have organized a Celebration of Life for our Dad, with lots of pictures and stories, and invite you to attend to share with everyone your memories of our Dad.  Alas, this just does not make sense and our Dad would not want you to attend and take such a risk.  So, as an alternative, Karl and I have written a short summary of our Dad’s life combined with our Mom’s: Gauglitz Family History

We would love to hear of your personal stories with our Dad to add to our memories.

Karl and Phil Gauglitz

Obituary Notice

Our Dad, Erich, passed away peacefully on November 22, 2020, at 91 years old, with his sons Karl and Phillip by his side after living a long and rich life.  Erich was born in St. Louis, MO on July 3, 1929, and spent his childhood in the small farming community of Whitewater, MO. In these years during the great depression, his family was quite self-sufficient and had a large garden, raised chickens and hogs, and typically had one or two cows that Dad would tend and sell milk to the neighbors. 

Erich helped his Dad at the gas station and garage the family owned and learned how to repair all kinds of mechanical things.  When electricity arrived in Whitewater in 1938, he helped his Dad wire a number of homes in the community and learned about electricity.  He also helped his Dad tear down and rebuild the family home, and learned carpentry.  Although Dad became a chemist by profession, he used these other skills on all sorts of projects and repairs throughout his life.

He was graduated from Delta High School, MO in 1946 and following graduation enlisted in the US Army at 17 ½ years old.  He was honorably discharged in 1949.  He began his university studies at City College San Francisco and transferred to UC Berkeley where he received a BS in chemistry in 1955. While at UC Berkeley, he met Shirley Ann Scharpf and they were married in 1955.  He then completed his graduate studies in organic chemistry at the UW in Seattle where he received a MS degree. 

Dad always had an interest in natural products, a branch of organic chemistry, and accepted a position in Seattle with the National Marine Fisheries in 1958 and began a 39 year career conducting research on marine fish. His early career focused on isolating omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils to support early human and animal clinical trials on the health benefits of fish oil (fish oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids has, over the years, become a widely used supplement for heart and brain health).  In the 1970s, he worked in analytical chemistry to quantify mercury in fish, which is toxic to humans, and worked with others to identify both industrial and natural sources of mercury that were entering the marine environment and contaminating fish that people consume.  This work, together with other countries, greatly reduced mercury in the oceans and marine fish throughout the world.  In the latter part of his career, Dad quantified the presence of demoic acid in crabs, and their favorite food razor clams.  Demoic acid is a biotoxin created by an algae bloom, much like “red tide” in shellfish, and the razor clams concentrate demoic acid and are then eaten by crabs, making the crabs unhealthy to eat.  Eventually, monitoring for algae blooms and demoic acid in crabs became common place and reduced this health hazard.  Through his work, the world is a better and healthier place. Dad had a love of books and volunteered 6 days a week at the Shoreline Library for 22 years.  He was pre-deceased by his wife of 49 years, Shirley, and also by Virginia Stout who was his very dear friend and companion following our mother’s death in 2004.  It was Erich’s request that there be no service and that memorials go to a charity of your choice.

[See also the Gauglitz Family History that Karl and Phil wrote up.]

1 Response

  1. Thank you for posting Erich’s history. I am very happy that he had his family there in the last days.
    I have been a dancing buddy of Virginia Stout and so I saw Erich almost every time I saw Virginia. We would talk a bit at the Skandia dances and for our Norwegian dance group, Leikarringen, he was more like one of the team. He would even drive his truck in the Norwegian Independence Day, 17th of May, parade carrying our banner, our belongings and our musician. It was always nice to chat with him.
    I’m very sorry to hear he has left us. Another amazing person gone to the great beyond.