Erwin Weber's Christmas Letter 2003


Fryxell as a young man
at the house of his father 

Fryxell as a Mountain
Climber in the Tetons 

 Fryxell as a Ranger at 
 the shore of Jenny Lake

Fryxell as a teacher
in front of Wallberg Hall

After I completed the 90-minute VHS tapes, the DVDs, and the PowerPoint slide presentation dealing with the life and work of Conrad Bergendoff during the summer of 2002, Dr. Ann Boaden, an expert on the history of the Fryxells asked me to prepare a video on the life of Fritiof Fryxell. Dr. Richard Anderson, the Fryxell Chair emeritus in Geology, promised to help and the Geology Department offered to partially fund the project. 

Since one of the highlights of the Bergendoff show was the appearance of relatives and friends relating their remembrances of Dr. Bergendoff, I started on a journey on Thanksgiving Day 2002 to visit more than fifty former students and friends of Dr. Fryxell throughout the United States to record their recollections of Dr. Fryxell. I drove from Rock Island to northern Virginia to visit Clifford Nelson who is the editor for publications at the US Geological Survey in Washington, DC. He told me to make sure I recorded the recollections of  Frank Whitmore, Jr. in Silver Springs, Maryland near Washington, DC. He was with the Geological Military Unit under Fritiof Fryxell in the Philippines during WWII. He was able to name every person in the 12-man unit. After the war Whitmore, a paleontologist, became Director of the USGS in Washington, DC. 

From Washington I drove to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to, visit John A. Reinemund, a former student of Fryxell. He graduated from Augustana in 1940. Unfortunately, the famous geologist had just come home from the hospital, for the doctors were no longer able to do anything for him. Three weeks after my visit, John A. Reinemund passed away. From Myrtle Beach I drove to Central Florida to visit James S. Yolton '40, a classmate of John Reinemund. When I finally arrived at his house,  his neighbor told me James had passed away a year and one-half ago and his wife died just six months ago. I then drove to Austin, Texas to visit Earl McBride '54, Professor of Geology, at the University of Texas in Austin. 

I then visited Glen Soderstrom in Dallas, Texas. I was impressed with his kindness and hospitality.  I was very pleased with students of Dr. Fryxell when I visited them.  They went out of their way to help me.  It made my travels that much more enjoyable. From Dallas I drove to Springfield, Missouri and recorded the recollections of Jim Miller '65, professor at Southwest Missouri State University.  I concluded my Eastern Tour in Champaign, Illinois where I interviewed Charley Collinson '49 and David Reinertson '50 at the Illinois Geological Survey located at the University of Illinois. Dick. Anderson took me on a field trip to the Collinson Quary in Milan, Illinois. In May I recorded the recollections of Jim Collinson '49 on campus of Augustana College.

At the end of January 2003, I spent a couple of weeks in California. I interviewed Mike Hager, director of the Museum of Natural History in Balboa Park, San Diego.  Mike became a teacher in the Geology Department and spent a lot of time in the Fryxell Geology Museum.   I also visited Richard Fetzner '51 at Thousands Oaks.  After his retirement he taught Geology at California Lutheran University.  On the same day I interviewed Victor Bartolome '41, who was wounded during WWII while flying a bomber over North Africa.  Tom Holst is from Sonora, California, but he visited me in San Francisco.  He became an earth science instructor at Columbia College and earned a doctorate in Education.  I plan to visit the former students of Fryxell living in California during the first week in February 2004 so that they can see how the Fryxell book and video are coming along. I wish to express my thanks to all those who made contributions to the Geology Department for expenses occurred in the Fryxell Project.  I am especially grateful to Cynthia Roseman Wright and her husband who plan to contribute enough funds to produce and distribute the booklet containing the recollections of former students and friends of Dr. Fryxell.  

In June I interviewed numerous former geology students of Dr, Fryxell from the Denver, Colorado area.  They included Marvin Allison '48, whose splendid hospitality and generous contribution to the project is greatly appreciated, Mark Bateman '65, Frank Beyers '49, David Hedlund '51,  Neil Jaquet '69,  Terry Kirkpatrick '65, Chuck Kluth '51, Don Kretsch '52,  Brad Morrison '66, who was especially helpful to me on numerous occasions saving me many additional trips to Denver, Dick Powers '50, Dave Schroeder, Virginia Steen-McIntyre '59 from Idaho Falls, and John Warme '59.

In the Tetons I met David Stephenson '58 who showed me the geology of Jackson Hole twice, once in June when I had the wrong setting on my Nikon film camera and once again in late September when the fall colors were at their height.  Dave let me use some of his digital photographs and showed me places I would never have found on my own.  What a great person, taking time to please during his busy schedule.  I also interviewed Renne Jackson, Senior Ranger and mountain climber, Doug McClaren, Old Time Ranger and former member of the Ranger Resque Team; and Bob Kranenberg, former foreman of the trail and bridge builders at the Park.  My Western trip concluded with a visit to John Kaser '56 in the eastern part of the State of Washington.  Other geology majors I visited were Thor Karlstrom '43, Bob Palmquist '60 and Professor Tony Eckdale '68 at the University of Utah.

In the Midwest I contacted Roger Swanson '48 from Ortonville, Minnesota, Peter Lundholm '71 from St. Cloud, David Lindorff  '67 and Meridith Ostrom '52 from Madison, Wisconsin,  Jean Peterson Bogner '69 from Wheaton, Illinois, Donald Danz '50 from Pallatine, Illinois,  Ted Larimer '57 from Geneseo, Illinois,  John Hendren '54 and Don Lindgren from Moline, Illinois.  

The Fryxell Project with its production of a 200-page book and 90-minute video has consumed most of my waking hours from a year ago last Thanksgiving until today.  But I think it is going to be worth the effort. I believe you will be pleased with the final product as will generations to come.  

And now 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 2003