Dr. Albert R. Gilgen
1930 - 2021

Dr. Albert R. Gilgen

September 19, 1930 - January 4, 2021

Dr. Gilgen's parents emigrated from Switzerland in the mid-1920s, and he was born in Akron, Ohio September 19th, 1930. His parents moved back to Switzerland in 1932, returning to the States in 1936. He attended kindergarten in Bern while in Switzerland. His first language was "Swiss German." Interestingly, although his mother's father, Rudolph Rufer, was Swiss, her mother, Jeanne Pauline Augustine Bunel, was French. Dr. Gilgen's mother was born in England because both of her parents were living in Windsor at the time.

He grew up in Akron and graduated from Garfield High School in 1948 as President of his class and Salutatorian. He also won the Busch & Lomb Science Award and Manhood Cup. He was awarded a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Scholarship, which paid for most of his expenses at Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1952 with a B.A. in chemistry and a commission in the Navy as an Ensign.

He served on the Destroyer USS James C. Owen (DD 776), stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1953, his ship went to Korea as the conflict between North and South Korea was ending. During his time in the Navy (1952-1955), his ship circumnavigated the globe. He also crossed the Equator changing his status from "Polliwog" to "Shellback."

In 1954, a year before his time in the Navy was over, he married Carol Elizabeth Keyes, a Junior at Bryn Mawr College, located near Philadelphia, whom he had met on a blind date during his time at Princeton. They had three children, nicknamed Jim, Beth, and Bert all of whom now live in Cedar Falls (Bert Returned from Texas in 2011). In the early to mid-1960s, both he and Carol earned master's degrees from Kent State University, he in psychology and she in political science. He then went on to earn his doctorate at Michigan State in 1965. They had a long and happy marriage, until she passed away on her birthday: December 14th, 2011.

During his career as a psychologist he taught at Beloit College and the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as the head of the Psychology Department for nearly 20 years, retiring in 2001. He authored many scholarly papers, and with the help of Carol, wrote and co-edited five books, ranging from contemporary American Psychology to International Psychology and the relevance of chaos theory for psychology. The family spent almost a year in Galway, Ireland (1970-1971) as Dr. Gilgen taught at University of Galway, supported by a Fulbright Scholarship. He presented invited papers in Russia, Austria, Mexico, and Ecuador.

When he retired, Al spent a lot of his time in the recliner watching the birds at the feeder and following the news on TV. He could also be heard around the house singing Good Ole Mountain Dew or playing some lively boogie-woogie on his keyboard.

The family got together to celebrate Al's 90th birthday last fall and everyone was glad to have spoken with him on Christmas via telephone. Al often commented on how grateful he was to have all three of his children visiting regularly (when permitted).

The Gilgen & Gerken families would like to send a special THANK YOU to the healthcare workers and staff at Rosewood Estate and Cedar Valley Hospice. Their level of care was exemplary. Al passed away peacefully and comfortably after completing an incredible journey.

Graveside memorial service to be held this spring. Richardson Funeral Service of Cedar Falls is assisting the family. At this time, memorials in honor of Dr. Gilgen can be directed to the PBS Foundation in his name. Online guestbook at www.richardsonfuneralservice.com.

To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier on Jan. 10, 2021.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Funeral services provided by:
Richardson Funeral Home
Add a Message
3 Entries
I attended Beloit College from 1967 - 1971 when I graduated with a major in Psychology. Your father was my faculty counselor and friend. He was kind, considerate, honest, and I relied upon his advice and guidance. He helped me become the woman I am today. I thank his family and friends for sharing him with me and the college students during his career. He was a wonderful man.
Claudia Deaton Glover
February 16, 2021
What a wonderfully written obit, a fitting tribute to the life of a genuinely interesting man.
Roy Behrens
January 12, 2021
Albert was an outstanding gentleman with an abundance of love for his family. He will be greatly missed!!
Ron Goodson
January 10, 2021