Ellis Englesberg, professor emeritus of molecular biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed away May 14, 2013. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, October 19, 1921, to Anna and Harris Englesberg. He was pre-deceased by his parents, his brother Jules, and his first wife, Beulah Waskow Englesberg.
He is survived by his wife of twenty-five years, Gail Embree of Santa Rosa; the Englesberg adult children: Barbara (h. Newell Hendricks) of Cambridge, MA; Paul (w. Lucy Morse) of Ferndale, WA; and Helen of Watsonville, CA.
Ellis had the joy of seeing his four grandchildren grow into adult hood: Anna and Clara Hendricks, and Colin and Amy Englesberg. He is also survived by three great- grandchildren; a nephew, Robert Englesberg, and a niece, Judy Schulman.
Ellis attended Brooklyn College and enlisted in the US Army at the age of 20. He trained soldiers in ballistics during WWII. After military service, he studied at UC Berkeley, earning his PhD in Bacteriology in 1952. He worked in research labs, including the Long Island Biological Association in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, and began his university career at the University of Pittsburgh.
In 1965, Ellis and his family moved to Santa Barbara where he was a professor of molecular biology at UC Santa Barbara until his retirement in 1990. Ellis became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1986, nominated for his pioneering research in molecular biology and genetics. Recognition for his leading role in the discovery of positive control of gene regulation came after many years of persistence in the face of skepticism of the scientific establishment.
In many ways Ellis was a renaissance man. In addition to his distinguished career as a scientist and professor, he was a lover of books, music, travel, theatre, and art and was a very supportive husband, father, and grandfather.
Ellis created the Guernica Gallery of Graphic Arts, collecting artwork dealing with social and political issues. He was a passionate advocate for social justice and human rights and saw himself as a radical both in science and in politics, believing that "the function of a scientist is to question existing theories and to destroy them."
Gail and Ellis moved from Santa Barbara after the Teahouse Fire in November 13, 2008 that destroyed their home on Alisal Road. They moved to Santa Rosa in 2009. Most of Ellis?s personal possessions were lost in the fire. The Embree-Englesberg family would appreciate your thoughts about his life, photos and memorabilia: send to Gail Embree, 4402 Bally Bunion Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.
Donations may be made to the Alzheimer?s Association for research. The Embree-Englesberg family would like to thank all who took care of Ellis in his final years.
A Memorial Celebration will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, September 21, 2013, at the Bronfman Family Jewish Center, 524 Chapala St., Santa Barbara, Calif.