The President's Message
is with great regret that I inform you that Ernie Pfannenschmidt passed away on
Monday, November 17, 2003, after a heart attack on the weekend.
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Ernie Pfannenschmidt was an active member of the Catboat Association, and wrote several wonderful articles, which we printed in our Bulletin. Below is a short excerpt from a cruising story he wrote in 1993 that captured his enthusiasm and love for the sea, the sky and sailing.
Good night Ernie; I will remember and be grateful I knew you. My condolences to Ernie's family and friends.
Ernie's passing was a shock, I thought he would be going strong until at least 100, he had so much energy and enthusiasm. We had become friends beyond the club. I will miss his sense of humor, his love for astronomy and his knowledgeable advice.
From the HIA internal newsletter of 24 November 2003
With sadness we learned this week of the death on 17 November of Ernie Pfannenschmidt, who retired a number of years ago from HIA-DAO. Trained as a shipwright, and a self-described "tinkerer," Ernie worked on the Queen Elizabeth II Telescope project, on instrumentation for the Victoria telescopes, and on the 1980s project to characterize sites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for astronomical use. He deeply loved astronomy, sailing and his family, which included numerous foster children. His most recent publication appeared in the November Sky & Telescope. Ernie was a raconteur of considerable skill, whose unmistakable zest for life stimulated everyone with whom he came in contact. Astronomy and the wider community have lost a special person, who will be missed by all who were fortunate to have known him. A celebration of his life will be held at the Canadian Forces Sailing Association, 1001 Maplebank, between 12:30-5:00 p.m. on 29 November.
On behalf of the the membership of the Vancouver Centre, I would like to
pass on our condolences to the Victoria Centre for the loss of Ernie
Pfannenschmidt. This is very sad news for all of us involved in amateur
I can't tell you how very sorry I am to hear that. I worked closely with
Ernie to bring a number of his article to publication here at the magazine and
visited with him in Victoria a number of times. I regarded him as much more than
an author -- he was a kind and patient mentor and a friend too...
Please pass on my condolences to Ernie�s surviving family. I was shocked
to hear of his passing and know the astronomical world will be a sadder place
for his passing but is equally a smarter place for his presence.
This is so Sad! I just don't know what to say. He will be sorely missed by
all that knew him.
One of the greatest gifts to share is the ease of conversation. Ernie had
that gift. My favourite times with Ernie were sitting with a cup of tea, at my
kitchen table or his, discussing his work, telescopes, astronomy past and
future, world affairs, family relations and everything in between. He gave
advice, adapting simple and practical solutions to complicated equipment and
situations. He loved to share his expertise and experience. Those of us
fortunate enough to have worked and played with Ernie learned much and laughed
along with him. He will be very sadly missed by his colleagues and friends �
both of which I was privileged to be. My sincere condolences to his family.
My condolences to Ernie's family and the members of Victoria Centre. Ernie
will be greatly missed within the astronomical community. I will let those who
knew him at work know the sad news.
My condolences to all the Victoria Centre, Ernie gave some very good talks here
in Vancouver and will be missed.
I'm glad I visited with Ernie after his Mars talk a few months ago.
He gave me the "grand tour" of his astronomy stuff. I digitized his materials
used in the talk 65 Years of Backyard Mars
Observing so we will have a permanent online record of his Mars observations.
Very nice to have those mementos of a great talk by Ernie. Thank you Joe.
I just heard about Ernie. My condolences to his family and friends. I saw
him about 2 years ago when he gave a talk at the Vancouver centre, RASC. His
talk inspired me to build an apodizing mask for planetary observing. I have been
working on these devices ever since, and it has grown into further research in
optics. Thanks Ernie.
...just talked to Judit Pfannenschmidt today at lunch and offered my condolences...she informed me that Ernie's obituary is in today's Times Colonist paper (Nov 21/03), and that a service to be named Celebration of Life will be held on Sat. November 29th from 12:30 to 5:00 pm at the Canadian Forces Sailing Association, 1001 Maplebank Rd. (just off Admirals Road on your way up to View Royal, near Propane filling Center).
Many Thanks, a tearful Bruno Quenneville
Ernie's enthusiasm for astronomy made him a very welcome speaker whenever he attended Victoria Centre meetings. He had a splendid ability to connect with people and always took time to talk with everyone around him. Ernie's passing is sad but his family can take comfort from the warm feelings he left behind. He'll be missed by all of us.
I only met Ernie once, when he came to Kobau to give a talk on what he did up on 'the hill' and the instrumentation he designed, maintained and ran. His talk started with his life experiences just prior to World War II and ended with his observing and instrumentation in Victoria. What an engaging and intelligent man! Many more interesting stories and a wealth of information forever gone. I am so sorry to hear of his passing.
Although I only met [Ernie] through the meeting over the last couple of years I found him a true scientist from the "golden age of science" who maintained his love of science mixed with his great sense of humor. He will be greatly missed.
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