Dr. Richard John Ungrodt, 91
Dr. Richard John Ungrodt, of Mequon, Wisconsin, went to be with his Lord on Nov. 13, 2010, at the age of 91. Surrounded by family, he died at Harrison Home in Cedarburg due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.
His life was shaped by his loving devotion to his family, his firm commitment to his faith and his tireless dedication to advancing the engineering profession.
Richard, child of God, was born on Feb. 20, 1919, to John and Esther (Stoffel) Ungrodt, in Milwaukee. Along with sister, Ruth (Eggold); brother, William; and sister, Elaine (Eggerding); he grew up in a home filled with family adventures, friendly contests, art, music and a deep devotion to Christian education. In 1936, he graduated from Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, the same school where all five of his children would later attend.
In 1941, at a Lutheran Student Association picnic in Jacobus Park in Wauwatosa, he met a young nursing student named Norma Neubauer. Although he was smitten after spending the June evening talking with her by the river, it would take him seven months to work up the courage to write. "Dear Norma," he would explain in a Christmas card note. "I hope that you haven’t forgotten me – even though I haven’t done anything to help you remember me." She did indeed remember him. The couple married on Feb. 21, 1943. Devoted to each other and to their children, they celebrated 66 anniversaries.
In the 1950s, he and Norma moved their young and growing family into a newly-built home in Freistadt, modeled after plans they found in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Through many seasons of tending fruit trees and vegetable gardens, summers of camping trips and school years of Christmas programs at Trinity Lutheran Freistadt, he kept a busy household of five children organized.
For more than 40 years, his professional life revolved around educating more than 15,000 future engineers at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from MSOE in 1941, he worked for five years at Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co., which included service as special assistant to the superintendent on the Manhattan Project. Following World War II, he returned to MSOE, serving as professor, dean of engineering, vice president of academic affairs and finally vice president for academic resources until his retirement in 1986.
His passion for engineering education led to his leadership roles in several professional organizations, including the American Society for Engineering Education and the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology – both of which honored him for his service. He received an honorary doctorate of engineering technology from the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and an honorary doctorate of engineering from MSOE.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he developed close professional relationships with colleagues at universities in the US and throughout the Middle East, helping to evaluate their engineering programs for accreditation. He consulted for schools in Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Iran, working most closely with the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia for 15 years. With Norma often accompanying him on foreign trips – and faithfully sending postcards back home – his family lived vicariously through their travel stories, slideshows and unique mementos.
Together Richard and Norma traveled this country to visit their children and grandchildren in Alaska, Michigan, Indiana and Montana. Vacations in their retirement took them to Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Egypt, Israel, Costa Rica and Japan. His love for exploring the world and learning about other cultures has inspired many of his children and grandchildren to do the same.
Richard lived out his faith and served the church in a variety of capacities, including congregation president at Trinity Freistadt. In later years he served in leadership roles on the board of directors of the Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee and on the board for higher education services for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
He had a special gift for relating to people and making them feel like they were old friends. While this man took all his responsibilities very seriously, he could also raise an eyebrow, wiggle his ears and make friends and family alike know how much he valued them above all else.
He is survived by children, Kathryn (Ricardo) Ernst, Virginia (David) Masengarb, Margaret (Curt Renner) Ungrodt, Richard (Jane) Ungrodt and Joy (Wesley) Young; grandchildren, Devin (Monica) and Aaron Ernst; Jennifer and Eric (Holly) Masengarb; Joel (Amy) and Kyle Renner; Nathan and Christian Ungrodt; Daniel, Amy, Aaron and Jordan Young; and great grandchildren, Savannah, Gillian and Nicholas Ernst. He is also survived by his sister, Elaine; brother-in-law, Roland Eggerding; sister-in-law, Amy Ungrodt; and numerous nieces and nephews.
His wife, Norma; parents, John and Esther Ungrodt; brother, William; and sister, Ruth Eggold; preceded him in death.
Funeral services for Richard Ungrodt will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, at 10 a.m. at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Freistadt, with visitation at the church today from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 a.m. until the time of the service. Interment will take place at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery. Memorials to Milwaukee Lutheran High School, Trinity Freistadt or Milwaukee School of Engineering are appreciated.
Sola Deo Gloria.
Mueller Funeral Home & Crematory of Cedarburg is assisting the family. For online condolences, please visit www.muellerfuneralhome.com.