Robert Whitcomb Ellingwood

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  • "May God bless Robert and comfort all who know him. Special..."
    - Joe Thompson
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Colorado Springs native and AdAmAn dies. Robert Whitcomb Ellingwood, a Colorado Springs native, long-time CU-Boulder professor, and 35th member of the AdAmAn Club, passed away at age 94 on May 22nd, 2012 in Boulder Colorado. He was born on May 16th, 1918 in Colorado Springs to Albert and Rea Ellingwood. A Memorial Service for all who wish to attend will be held on Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. at the American Mountaineering Museum at 710 10th Street, Golden, Colorado 80401. The museum number is (303) 384-9146. For directions, access, click on Visit, and then click on Directions. After five years of teaching at Colorado College, Robert's father accepted a faculty position of teaching constitutional law at Northwestern University, so the family moved to Evanston, Illinois. Robert graduated with a B.S. degree in Math and Engineering from Northwestern University. He earned his M.S. degree in Geology from the University of Illinois. From 1943-1948, Robert aided in the war effort by working for the U.S. Geological Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey in the research and development of creating metals from minerals. Robert's father was an accomplished and well-known pioneer in American mountaineering. His notoriety is acknowledged by one of the 54 Colorado fourteener peaks being named Ellingwood Peak. Even after the Ellingwood family moved to Illinois, they would spend summers in Colorado Springs. Albert's love of the Colorado mountains was passed on to his son, Robert. When Robert was 15, he climbed his first fourteener, Long's Peak, with his father leading the way. After his father passed away in 1937, Robert continued to spend summers in Colorado surveying land, taking a geology course at Colorado College, visiting CU, exploring mountain towns, working as a tour guide in Colorado Springs, driving tour buses up Pikes Peak, and helping park rangers find lost hikers. In the summer of 1941, he climbed three fourteeners in one weekend. After graduate school, Robert made Colorado his permanent home. Robert taught geology at CSU for two years before moving to Boulder. His first work at CU was designing astrological equipment for a project funded by Harvard University at the High Altitude Observatory. In 1952, Robert began his 45 year career of teaching math at CU. During his beloved years at CU, Robert served as a Marshal in over 75 commencements. He also served as the House Manager for over 15 years for the Artists Series. From 1952 to the mid 1980s, he sang with the University Festival Chorus and served as their business manager. From 1955-1956, he sang with the Denver Symphony Chorus. Robert's avocation in geology continued throughout his career as he led geology field trips for the Colorado Mountain Club (served as president from 1955-1956), led CU math conference guests on tours of the mountains, and was a member since 1953 of the Pike's Peak AdAmAn Club. He made at least 22 grueling winter climbs with the club. He enjoyed serving as the Firemaster who supervised the midnight New Years's Eve fireworks display from the 14,110ft summit of Pike's Peak. Since retiring in 1997, Robert continued serving the Boulder community by giving lectures at local retirement homes. His topics covered the history of Boulder, CU, narrow-gauge railroads in Colorado, mountaineering adventures, the naming of the Fourteeners, and entertainment experiences. He also recorded eight oral history videos for the Boulder Public Library which can be accessed online. When the American Mountaineering Museum opened in 2008, Robert was an enthusiastic supporter and donated all of his father's mountaineering diaries, pictures, and climbing gear to the museum. Robert also collaborated for several years, sharing information with author, Jeff Arnold for his 2010 publication, Albert Ellingwood: Scholar of Summits. In addition to his legacy of accomplishments in the areas of education, mountaineering, and music, Robert Ellingwood was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. As of 2012, he became a great-grandfather. Robert married Barbara Brown on August 31, 1954 at the First Congregational Church in Boulder. His wife of 51 years passed away in 2005. He is survived by his daughter Beth, of Las Vegas, Nevada and son John, of Reno, Nevada. He was a proud grandfather of Andrea Rogers of Reno, Nevada; Benjamin Ishizuka of Los Angeles, California; Chianne Shepherd of Clearwater, Florida; and Andrew Ellingwood of Las Vegas, Nevada. The latest edition to the family is four month old Aurora Rogers. Up to his last days, Robert Ellingwood believed in making a difference in this world by using the gifts that God had given to him by giving to others. His family and friends will forever be blessed by his inspiring life. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that a donation be made to the American Mountaineering Museum, 710 10th St., Golden, CO 80401.
Published in The Gazette on June 17, 2012