Robert Martin “Bob” Wohlhueter passed away on July 13th 2020, aged 79, from unexpected lung and heart illness, surrounded by his family. Despite potential correlation to the global pandemic, his tests for coronavirus were consistently negative.
He is preceded in death by his parents Frederick and Mable (née Miller) Wohlhueter, and brothers Bill and Tom Wohlhueter. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Judith Wohlhueter (née Potter), son Alexander, grandsons Dylan and Spencer, brother Jim Wohlhueter, sister Barbara Bedient, and nieces and nephews.
Bob was born in 1940 to a farming family near Buffalo, NY, and went on to have a long and distinguished career in biological sciences. He published more than 60 peer reviewed papers in journals like The Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Cellular Physiology. After earning degrees from Hamilton College, MIT, and University of Wisconsin at Madison, Bob lived in Germany for 4 years as a post-doctoral fellow at Universität Freiburg (im Breisgau), where he and Judy welcomed their son into the world.
In 1975, he returned to the USA and joined the University of Minnesota as assistant professor of Microbiology, where he taught classes and did laboratory research. In the 1980s, he helped launch the fledgling Institute of Human Genetics, bringing cutting-edge technology to other U of M researchers.
Next, in a bold move for a Yankee, he relocated to Atlanta, GA, for a job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1990. He worked in genetics and virology, and enjoyed the food, diversity, and deep history of the area. Upon retiring from civil service in 2006, Bob began working at Georgia State University, where he was an invaluable mentor to many students.
Still hungry for adventure, and having studied Chinese since his 40s, he also spent several semesters of his “retirement” living and teaching in mainland China as a visiting professor at four universities. He was still helping student scientists by co-authoring publications as recently as 2016.
Bob was a true liberal arts scholar, with equal love for arts and sciences, and strong social principles that drove him to the public square to call for peace, justice, and equal rights. In his early days in Minneapolis, he co-founded Unity Theater, producing and performing work ranging from street theater to Brecht to a Blitzstein musical. He was a founding member of the Committee Against Racism in Minneapolis and an officer in the Democratic Socialists of America in Atlanta. He read voraciously and loved history, etymology, world cinema, theater, and music. He led many trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and paddled the Colorado, the Cuyabeno in Ecuador, and the Zambezi in southern Africa.
In spring 2019 he and Judy moved back to Minnesota. He joined German and Chinese language groups, and enjoyed plays, museums, bike rides, and baseball games with his son’s family.
We will miss him dearly for his wisdom, style, humility, irreverent humor, wry comments, and rants about the monstrous or petty injustices in the world.
Due to the current pandemic, a memorial service will be announced at a later date. We encourage friends, students, family, and colleagues to join the “Remembering Bob Wohlhueter” group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/remembering.bob.wohlhueter/) to share memories and photos. In lieu of flowers, memorials in his name may be directed to UNICEF (https://gf.me/u/yhpbpj).