Erwin Weber's Christmas Letter 2004

Snow-covered fir trees in
Yosemite National Park

Redwood trees in
Sierra Nevada Mountains

Prof. Weber as founder of
Summer School in Passau

St. Stephan's Cathedral
Sketch by Erwin Weber

After spending all of 2003 gathering information and photographs for a book depicting recollections of Fryxell's former students and friends, I continued gathering information in California. I photographed the redwood trees in the Sierra-Nevada mountain range. One of Fryxell's three sons changed his name to Redwood because he liked those tree so much. The weather in the mountains did not cooperate. It was foggy and rainy for three days. When I got to Yosemite Village the fog was so thick I could not see any mountains. I asked at the General Store when it would be a clear day. They said wait until midnight. I got up at midnight and sure enough, the stars were shining. I was lucky. It was my last day in Yosemite. The rain had turned to snow and clung to the branches of the fir trees. It was picture perfect. Then I saw the incomparable valley with mountains such as El Capitan and Half-Dome. Dr. Fryxell had been to Yosemite and helped his fellow geologist Francois E. Matthes map the area. Fryxell concluded the work after the death of Matthes.

It took me the rest of this year to assemble the photographs and write the text for the Fryxell book and the Fryxell DVD. The book was edited by Dr. Richard C. Anderson, the first recipient of the Fryxell Chair in Geology. He looked over the book and was very pleased with the final version. The text for the Fryxell DVD was edited by Dr. Lucille Ann Boaden with comments by Dr. Richard Anderson. All I have to do now is add the various sounds to the DVD such as those of the narrator, Kai Swanson, and the voice of Dr. Fryxell. You will also hear the voices of men and women whom he encouraged to chose a career in geology as well as to become teachers of geology in high school, college or university. The show will conclude with the voices of Dr. Dorothy Parkander, the first recipient of the Bergendoff Chair in the Humanities, and Dr. Lucille Ann Boaden, Curator of the Fryxell papers.

In the process of collecting materials for the book, I visited 48 of Dr. Fryxell's former students. They graduated from Augustana between 1938 and 1971.  25 earned the PhD.  Twelve students helped fund the project. Notable among the donors is Cynthia Roseman Wright '60. She and her husband Ray Wright not only sent money to defray some of my expenses but also contributed funds to the geology department to equip a bindery center for the distribution of the Fryxell book.

Stephen C. Bahls, the new president of Augustana College, knows the value of studying languages when it is spoken in its natural setting. Recently he made arrangements with the University of Passau in Germany for an exchange program so our students will have an opportunity to study German in Germany. The German department sent out letters requesting funds for the Erwin Weber Scholarship Fund which provides financial assistance to Augustana students studying in Germany. So far several thousand dollars have been raised. I am very pleased that many former students of mine have contributed to the scholarship to enable several students to benefit from this program. I am especially grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Rolf Heller, Karen C. Holmen, James and Kristy Mahlo, Timothy & Kristin Marquardt, Dr. Lois R. Levine-Mundie, Mr. Ron D. Summers, and Ms. Jodi L. Weseman.

I wish you and your friends Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Don't forget to keep in touch.

Erwin Weber
December 2004