TCU community remembers ‘King of Geology’ Dr. Arthur Ehlmann

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An emeritus geology professor was remembered at a memorial service and recption where flowers were cast aside for rocks.

Dr. Arthur Ehlmann, 89, died unexpectedly Aug. 19, after having spent the morning looking at a new meteorite, Dr. Ken Morgan wrote in an obituary for the Star-Telegram.

Ehlmann taught geology students at TCU for 45 years before retiring in 1993. In 1977, Ehlmann was awarded Honors Professor of the Year.

His pursuit of education didn’t end at retirement. He continued working as a volunteer curator for the Oscar E. Monnig Meteorite Collection. Ehlmann helped bring the collection to TCU through his longtime friendship with Monnig. He also acted as a mentor for students as an emeritus professor.

Family and friends sign a picture of Ehlmann at the reception following the memorial on Monday. (Photo by Kayley Ryan)

Former students established the Arthur J. Ehlmann Scholarship to honor his impact on their lives.

Denise Stone was the only former student to speak at Ehlmann’s memorial. She said she took his freshman geology class—and liked it so much she changed her major to geology.

“He had a true gift for educating people…fighting superstition and ignorance,” Stone said.

Stone spoke about Ehlmann’s no-nonsense teaching style, drawing laughter from memorial attendees.

“He hated the question ‘is that going to be on the test?’” Stone said. “He told his students, ‘People that want to be educated soak up all kinds of knowledge, whether it’s on a test or not.’”

1986 TCU alumnus Keith Albright said Ehlmann was an inspiration to him, especially on geology field trips when Ehlmann would pull a van full of students to a halt in the middle of the wilderness.

Rocks decorated the reception area where memorial attendees gathered at the Oscar E. Monnig Meteorite Collection. (Photo by Kayley Ryan)

“‘What is it? Describe it,’” Ehlman would say as he pointed to a rocky outcropping and asked his students to identify it.

“He really set the bar in each person he dealt with to make them the best they could be,” Albright said. “I’m just happy to have known him.”

Colleagues and students alike characterized Ehlmann as, “the king of geology,” pointing to Ehlmann’s lifelong pursuit of education in his field.

“He gave 60 years of his life,” Morgan said about Ehlmann’s time as a professor, department chair and emeritus professor at TCU. “I mean, who does that?”

Ehlmann’s work ethic was contagious, Morgan said.

“He made me want to come to work every single day,” he said.

Dr. Leo Newland, also an emeritus professor at TCU, knew Ehlmann for 49 years.

Newland, Ehlmann and chemistry professor Dr. Bill Koehler were close friends throughout their time at TCU. Newland said Ehlmann’s plainspoken nature drew Koehler and Newland to him.

“I hope they remember him just for the very honest and straightforward person that he was,” Newland said. “He was a very giving person and would do anything to help you if you were sincere.”

But Ehlmann wasn’t all business. When not studying rocks, he rode his bike around campus, listened to music and reread novels, according to an article he wrote for the TCU Retirees Association’s newsletter.

 

“So what do I actually do, since I am assumed for the moment to be an ‘aging expert’?” Ehlmann wrote in the September issue of the TCU RA newsletter. “It’s the TCU recreation workout every MWF followed by bicycling around the campus for another hour. For relaxing, I sit in my ‘Archie Bunker Chair’ and resort to TV to listen to ‘Music Choice Easy Listening,’ which has all the old favorites before music went crazy (OK, modern).”

The family asks that memorial gifts be sent to the Arthur J. Ehlmann Scholarship fund, TCU Box 297044, Fort Worth, TX, 76129.