Dr. Rainer R. Erhart

June 25, 1935 ~ August 3, 2019 (age 84)


Passed away Saturday morning, August 3, 2019. Rainer was born in Monstab, Germany, the son of the late Rudolf and Charlotte (Gerth) Erhart. He came to the US as an exchange student and later returned. In 1961 he was united in marriage to his loving wife of 58 years, Elfriede (Terri) Rapp who survives. He earned a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Illinois. In 1965 he began teaching at Western Michigan University and had a 30 year teaching career which he loved. He enjoyed his love of geography and biology by traveling widely and exploring numerous cultures. He shared his knowledge with family, students and friends. For many years, he took WMU students to both Mexico and Guatemala to study the Mayan culture and market economy. He traveled for many years with students to Puerto Rico to study the ecology of the tropical rainforest, the dry forest, and coral reefs. He enjoyed being out of doors and was able to identify numerous plants, animals and bird species. He had a lifelong curiosity about birds and was an expert on the breeding of love birds. Tennis was a love of his, both playing and witnessing. He had a wicked sense of humor that drew people to him and he was the penultimate conversationalist about many topics, especially science, wildlife, geography and agriculture. He never forgot his German heritage and throughout the years returned with his wife and daughters. He especially enjoyed visiting family and friends and often coincided visits with a favorite town festival. Also surviving are his daughters, Kristina M. Erhart (Chanse), Lisa A. Erhart-McManus (Evan); 3 grandchildren, Alex Ursel, Cullin and Kenzie McManus; sisters Gundela Lind (Wolfgang), Friederun Pfeiffer; and several nieces and nephews. There will be no visitation. A private family memorial will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the WMU Geography Department. Checks should be written to WMU Foundation - Geography Department and state "In Memory of Dr. Rainer R. Erhart" and sent to WMU Foundation, 1903 West Michigan, Kalamazoo MI 49008.

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