Ernst Fredricksmeyer


Fredricksmeyer died peacefully in his home of 48 years. He was born in Bismarck, North Dakota, to Friedrich (Fritz) and Selma Friedrichsmeyer. His sister, Ingema Smith, resides in Iver, Bucks, England and his brother, Hardy (wife Sara), in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ernst is survived also by his wife, Gloria, and their three sons, Hardy (wife Stephanie), Stefan (wife Beth), and John, and three grandsons, Ben, Sam and Max. Ernst is survived also by his brother-in-law, John English, and many nieces, nephews, and their families, all of whom will miss him greatly. Ernst spent the first three years of life in North Dakota, where his father was an exchange Lutheran minister from Germany. The family returned to Germany in 1933 and Ernst grew up in the dark years before and during WWII. As a result of heavy allied bombing of Germany, when Ernst was 13 his school (a Classical Gymnasium that stressed Latin and Ancient Greek) was relocated to the Austrian Alps. He did not see his parents for the next two years. Ernst was 15 when the war ended in spring 1945. He was spared the fate of slightly older classmates who upon their 16th birthdays had been deployed against veteran Russian troops on the eastern front. Ernst and his younger-than 16 classmates faced their own hardships when they were released from school in Austria to fend for themselves. Riding trains, hitchhiking, and doing transient farm work, over several months Ernst made his way home through a war-torn landscape. Ernst finished his studies at the Gymnasium 1945-1947 and, at the same time, worked on the German black market selling cigarettes and other goods, along with his lifelong rogue-companion, Wilfried Gruemer. Inspired in part by American swing music (that had been banned by the Nazis as "decadent art") and the dismal German economy, in 1948 and before his 18th birthday, Ernst embarked for the U.S. on an ocean liner out of Bremerhaven, Germany, by himself, with little money, and no knowledge of English. After beginning his studies in Classics at Lakeland College, Wisconsin, and running out of money, Ernst served two years in the U.S. Army, including as a Special Police, a branch of the military police, ironically stationed (back) in Germany. Ernst then resumed college and went on to earn a PhD in Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was in Madison that Ernst met his closest American friend, fellow classicist and poetic soul, Richard Minadeo, and fell head-over-heels in love with his wife, Gloria. "From the day we first met, there was no other girl for me," Ernst said of Gloria. In the following years, Ernst helped Gloria to raise three rowdy sons and generations of pets, and held appointments at numerous colleges, including Cornell College, Dartmouth, Bryn Mawr, the University of Washington at Seattle, and, for the rest of his career, the University of Colorado at Boulder, from which he retired as full professor. Beth Dusinberre, one of Ernst's colleagues and the current chair of Classics at CU-Boulder, summed up Ernst's impact on Classics as follows. "Internationally renowned for his transformative scholarship on Alexander the Great, Ernst was known to many of us for his extraordinary knowledge, passion for scholarship, attention to detail combined with an ability to see the bigger picture, his sparkling humor and keen wit, his supportiveness, and his generosity. He was a legendarily superb teacher, responsible for bringing flocks of students to a love for Classics through his wildly popular (but challenging) Greek Mythology class as well as his exceptionally demanding and rigorous upper-division classes. His 44 publications remain essential contributors to scholarly discourse in a wide array of fields, and his memory a source of joy and inspiration." Special thanks go to son, John, and the wonderful caretakers of Dignity Care and Family Hospice of Boulder for helping Gloria to ensure Ernst the best possible conclusion to a life well lived. A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held at the Chautauqua Park Community House, 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder, CO 80302, Monday, January 18th, 2016, 12 noon. In accord with Ernst's wishes, memorial contributions can be made to the Boulder Valley Humane Society.