GRAND CHAIN, Ill. - Eugene J. Ulrich, 92, of Grand Chain, Illinois, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home, Saturday evening, January 4, 2014.
He is survived by one sister, Rosemary O'Keefe of Vienna, Ill.; his former wife, Rue Ulrich of St. Louis, Mo.; two sons, Burton Ulrich of Paducah, Ky., and Monte Ulrich of Tulsa, Okla.; one daughter, Jill Ulrich of Tulsa, Okla.; three grandchildren, Nicole Ulrich, Jana Ulrich and Melanie Ulrich; and a multitude of nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Alex and Regina Schoenborn Ulrich; and seven siblings, Marie Little, Helen Gore, Rex Ulrich, Florence Currans, Clarence "Freddie" Ulrich, James "Son" Ulrich and Edward "Beebe" Ulrich.
Eugene was born December 13, 1921, on a farm between Olmsted and Grand Chain, Illinois. At age 16 he entered Southern Illinois University where he earned all of his college expenses graduating (1943) as a Valedictorian with highest honors with a Mathematics Major.
He enlisted (1942) in the Army Air Corps. After study in the radar training programs at Yale University, Harvard University, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was a radar officer in a World War II combat unit in France, Belgium, Austria, and Germany. Discharged as a Captain in 1946, he changed his field of study from science to music, an area in which he had always had special interest. One thing was certain, he had little aptitude or talent for farming, his ancestors' occupation for some generations.
Eugene studied music at the University of Illinois and the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.), receiving the Ph.D. from Eastman (1955). From 1949 until 1987 Eugene taught music (piano, organ, theory, composition) at Phillips University, Enid, Oklahoma, where he held the chair of Maude Butts Briggs Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts. For some years he concertized on the organ and/or harpsichord.
His compositions have been performed in many of the major musical centers of North America and Europe. Among his special commissions are a setting of Psalm 75 for the 75h Anniversary of Phillips University, and a work for Concert Band performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for the Oklahoma portion of the nation's Bicentennial Celebrations (1976).
Besides music, he maintained an interest in other areas, and was a member of the American Mycological Society, the Northern Nut Growers Association (whom he once represented on a trip to China), The North American Fruit Explorers and the National Puzzlers League.
Around 1962, he was, so far as is known, the first person to discover and correctly classify all 80 solutions to the magic hexagram, a problem in recreational mathematics for which Henry Dudeney, the great British recreational mathematics expert, had found only 74 solutions.
In recent years he gave freely of his musical talents, both in instructing younger students, and in giving free concerts at local community, civic, and church organizations. Apart from music he enjoyed sharing his many, diverse interests in topics ranging from spiritual matters, psychic phenomenon, alternative medicine, music history, and even the possibility of UFO travel, having attended a UFO conference in his last few months.
He made many friends across many walks of life; a stranger to no one, a friend to anyone and everyone, and he will be missed by all.
Services for Eugene will be Saturday, January 11, 2014, at 10 a.m. at Wilson Funeral Home in Karnak, Illinois. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. with a Celebration of Life Service at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in St. Catherine Cemetery in Grand Chain.
All friends and family of Eugene are encouraged to attend both services.
To leave an on-line condolence for the family or to share a memory visit our website at www.wilsonfuneralhome1928.com.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude's Children Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.