I have known Dr. Ehlmann a long time. How long exactly? Since I received a question through EBay… It must have been early in 2001. I had posted a small fragment of NWA 753 Rumurutite and this person was asking if I had a much larger piece available,—perfect spelling, perfect grammar and punctuation, unusual on EBay, the name at the bottom of the post: Dr. A. Ehlmann. I was stunned! The Curator of the Monnig Collection was actually surfing EBay. Oh yes! I did have a much larger piece of NWA 753, but I did run my answer through spellcheck twice before sending it.
Please allow me to introduce Dr. Ehlmann to those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting him. He is a very kind and very tall gentleman, and everybody’s favorite expert in meteorites. Born in Saint Charles, Missouri in 1928, he still calls himself a Missourian after all these years. His original field of expertise was clay mineralogy and he even worked for Shell Co. for a couple years before discovering his real calling: teaching. He joined Texas Christian University in Fort Worth Texas in 1958. That was the beginning of a very busy career, including traveling:
And taking the students on field trips, even if that meant extra work for the professor:
But Art always dominated the situation:
Something his students knew quite well:
But then on a bright day in the early 1960s, as he was mowing his lawn, he was visited by a person who would change his life: Oscar Monnig. And together they would build the collection of meteorites that O. Monnig eventually donated to TCU. When Art retired from teaching in 1993, a new job was waiting for him: curating that collection. He did an exemplary job. The collection originally consisted of 392 different meteorites and a great many duplicates. Art managed to parlay those duplicates into well over 1000 new ones, and the collection now includes some 1700 different meteorites. I still remember when Art told me that he would make me a great deal if I could help him sell several large masses of Travis, just so he could at last put his feet under his desk. Oscar Monnig had left funds to help manage the collection, but he did not want it to stay hidden in boxes. That was taken care of on February 1, 2003 when the Oscar E. Monnig Meteorite Collection was opened to the public. And I had the pleasure of visiting it with Art a few months later.
As curator of a large collection Art often visited the yearly Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, where he was seen wheeling, dealing, selling duplicates and buying great new specimens.
In May 2008, Texas Christian University decided to recognize and celebrate Art’s long tenure, and long presence on campus. The whole thing was prepared behind his back and was a huge surprise to him. After a lavish dinner and several speeches, Art was officially crowned King Arthur, and his career was reviewed by his peers.
Early in 2012, Art and his wife Carol announced to me that they had finally decided to come to the yearly Meteorite Show and get-together in Ensisheim, France. I contacted some friends there, particularly Zelimir Gabelica, the inventor and organizer of this show, and gave them the good news. It was promptly decided that Art would be made a member of the “Confrerie Saint Georges des Guardiens de la Meteorite de Ensisheim”. And that too was a surprise to Art, since Carol and I somehow forgot to tell him. Come to think of it, he does not know about this article either. Good thing Art has a great sense of humor.
And now that Art has decided to really retire, he will no longer ride his bicycle from his home to his office on campus as he had done for so long. But our loss will be others’ gain, because Art is not going to sit home watching TV, no, not Art! He is already tutoring kids in math and sciences, kids who did not have a very good start in life. And he is enjoying it!