Robert Eric Morgenthaler obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Robert Eric Morgenthaler

April 20, 1945 - May 12, 2017

Obituary


Eric Morgenthaler, age 72, of Mission died May 12th, 2017 at St. Luke's Hospice House of complications of myelofibrosis, a rare bone-marrow cancer.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jean B. and Robert E. Morgenthaler of Prairie Village, and brother Jeff of Boerne, TX. Survivors include sister Susan of Fairway; Jeff's wife Jeanne Ann Buchanan of Boerne; nieces Ann of Ouray, CO; and Jean of Denver, CO. They also include aunt Ann Rupert of Scott's Valley, CA, numerous cousins including Wallace Wilson and wife Ann of Pittsburg KS, and friend Jeff...

Eric Morgenthaler, age 72, of Mission died May 12th, 2017 at St. Luke's Hospice House of complications of myelofibrosis, a rare bone-marrow cancer.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jean B. and Robert E. Morgenthaler of Prairie Village, and brother Jeff of Boerne, TX. Survivors include sister Susan of Fairway; Jeff's wife Jeanne Ann Buchanan of Boerne; nieces Ann of Ouray, CO; and Jean of Denver, CO. They also include aunt Ann Rupert of Scott's Valley, CA, numerous cousins including Wallace Wilson and wife Ann of Pittsburg KS, and friend Jeff Wilson.
Born at the U.S. Naval hospital in Norfolk, VA, Eric attended Prairie Village schools, and graduated from KU with undergraduate degrees in journalism and political science. He received a master's degree in international relations from Georgetown University. Upon graduation, he was hired as a reporter in the Dallas bureau of the Wall Street Journal, followed by stints as a Journal correspondent in Pittsburgh and London, and as the Journal's bureau chief in Denver, Atlanta and Miami. He retired to Kansas City, where he freelanced for national business publications.
Eric reported for the Journal from some of the more problematic datelines of the 1970's, 80's and 90's - the Soviet Union, Middle East, Panama, Bolivia and Mexico - on some of the era's major stories. He wrote about religion behind the Iron Curtain, the Russian nuclear-power industry, Turkish military coup, Kuwaiti investment strategies, the personality cult of Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu, the Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. involvement in Iraq, Bolivia's hyperinflation, the cocaine trade, and Panama's so-called constitutional coup. A 1991 story about Pedro Zamora, a Cuban immigrant who used his own illness to educate teenagers about the perniciousness of AIDS, led to a new and sympathetic understanding of the disease that was then sweeping the country.
For all his serious reporting, though, Eric was perhaps most well-known for the light, quirky features that exposed his droll personality. He wrote of the issues created by small birds getting drunk after eating fermented berries on trees, an escape artist who didn't always escape, the House of Prayer Bar-B-Que, whose ministry combined the sacred and the smoked, and a Wyoming Boy Scout project that collected elk horns for sale to Asians for use as an aphrodisiac. (It wasn't clear whether the Boy Scouts understood what aphrodisiacs were.) In 1973 the governor of Kansas called a press conference to denounce his article poking fun at the state, which had just appointed its first tourism department, of one person. The lead example was the world's biggest ball of twine, in Cawker City.
Eric was a discriminating reader as well as writer. He loved mid-20th century authors who wrote side-splitting humor without cracking a smile such as Barbara Pym and Evelyn Waugh. He believed everyone on earth should read Eudora Welty's short story "Why I Live at the P.O."
A joyful party for friends and family was held shortly prior to his death. Private services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Eric Morgenthaler Study Abroad Scholarship at the KU Endowment, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044, or the charity of the donor's choice.
Arrangements under the direction of Mt Moriah, Newcomer & Freeman Funeral Home, Kansas City, MO.