Nature 14

Philip Ellis Erlenbach

January 23, 1935 ~ February 24, 2022 (age 87)


Philip Ellis Erlenbach, age 87, passed away on February 24, 2022.  He was born January 23, 1935, in Syracuse, NY, the son of Clinton Paul Erlenbach and Georgia Pickens Ellis.

After graduating from Wilbraham Academy, Philip attended Duke University and graduated in 1956.  At Duke, he met his wife, Barbara Ann Freeman, and they were married October 12, 1958.  Philip was then drafted by the US Army and served two years in Germany.

Philip worked as a salesman at Continental Can and later at Federal Paper Board.  In his late career, he worked as a realtor in Brookfield, CT.  In 1995, he and his wife moved to Mebane, NC.

Philip began a life full of adventures with his family in upstate NY.  At 12 years of age, he traveled to Churchill, Manitoba to study shorebirds with his aunt, a professor of ornithology.  A summer of camping amongst caribou and polar bears culminated with a whale hunt in a sealskin kayak. Their research on the Hudsonian Godwit was accepted by the Smithsonian.

His uncle bestowed many secrets of fly fishing to him which ignited a lifelong passion of fishing.  He sought outdoor adventures across North America, leading him to visit all fifty states and all the major national parks in his pursuits.

Duplicate bridge was as much a social affair for Philip as it was a game, and he made many friends on his way to becoming a Life Master. He traveled the globe in his later years with his friend and partner of 20 years, Barbara Martin. He shared his love of adventure with her, beginning with their first trip on an icebreaker across the Arctic Ocean to Greenland.

He was most proud of his family and is survived by his sons Paul Randall (Sian) of Brookfield, CT; George Bradford (Laura) of Charlotte, NC; and daughter Wendy Ransbury (Terrance) of Wake Forest, NC.  Also surviving are grandchildren Avery, Morgan, Peter and Steven Erlenbach; Hayden, Sydney and Calvin Ransbury.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara; sister, Roxann; and his parents.

A memorial service will be held on March 12 at 3:00 PM at the Duke Chapel with a reception to follow.  Contributions in memory of Philip are suggested to Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Duke University, Campus Box 90341, Durham, NC 27708-0341.  Memories and expressions of sympathy may be made to 

May he rest in peace and have great success in the eternal fishing hole.


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