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Eugene Ulrich

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GRAND CHAIN - Eugene J. Ulrich, 92, passed away peacefully in his sleep Saturday, Jan.4, 2014, at his home.

He is survived by one sister, Rosemary O'Keefe of Vienna; his former wife, Rue Ulrich of St. Louis; two sons, Burton Ulrich of Paducah 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 Dec. 13, 1921, on a farm between Olmsted and Grand Chain. At age 16, he entered Southern Illinois University where he earned all of his college expenses graduating in 1943 as a Valedictorian with highest honors with a major in mathematics.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942. 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 Capt. 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 in Rochester, N.Y., receiving the Ph.D. from Eastman in 1955. From 1949 until 1987, Eugene taught piano, organ, theory and composition at Phillips University, Enid and 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 commis-sions are settings of Psalm 75 for the 75th Anniversary of Phillips University, and a work for Concert Band performed at the Kennedy Cen-ter in Washington, D.C. for the Oklahoma portion of the nation's Bicentennial Celebrations in 1976.

Besides music, he maintained an interested 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 at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, in Wilson Funeral Home in Karnak. Burial will be in St. Catherine Cemetery in Grand Chain. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. with a Celebration of Life service. Friends and family are encouraged to attend both services.

Memorial s may be made to St. Jude's Children Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

To leave an on-line condolence for the family or to share a memory, visit

Published in The Southern Illinoisan from Jan. 6 to Jan. 8, 2014
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