Everett Ehrhart, 86: Engineer, missionary had love of stamp collecting

Electrical engineer, Christian missionary, consummate philatelist. Everett Ehrhart had many accomplishments during his long life.

But one word described him quite well, said family members.

"He was such a gentleman," said son John Ehrhart. "We heard that word so much, from so many people."

Everett "Fritz" Ehrhart, of Lawrenceville, died Saturday of cancer. He was 86. A memorial service will be held at the Snellville Church of Christ at 11 a.m. Saturday. His minister and friend, Harold Savage, will officiate. Tom M. Wages Funeral Home is handling the service.

"He was really a smart guy," said Pastor Savage, who noted Mr. Ehrhart's love of classical music, photography, sudoku, crosswords and all sorts of puzzlers.

He taught himself German, and when Mr. Ehrhart joined the church's prison ministry in his 70s he started learning Spanish to better communicate with the incarcerated men, said the pastor. "He wasn't a touchy, feel-ly kind of guy, but he showed he cared by his work, not his words," the pastor said.

"He shared his love of music, history and the English language -- especially grammar -- with his children," said daughter Cindy Hayes.

Mr. Ehrhart was born in Decatur, Ill., in 1925. He received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and a master's degree from Georgia Tech. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he married the former Theresa ‘Terry' Lemons and they shared 62 years of marriage. She died in November 2009.

In 1961, after working on the East Coast for a time, Mr. Ehrhart joined BellSouth and settled his family in the Atlanta area. He retired from the company after 30 years. Mr. Ehrhart was a longtime member of the Avondale Church of Christ and the Snellville Church of Christ. He embraced missionary work and traveled to the Ukraine and India on mission trips. "That was something he got into after the kids were grown and out of the house," said his son John. "He said it made him feel good to help people."

Another love of Mr. Ehrhart was his ham radio, family members said. He had a little building behind the house for the radio and equipment.

And he has a massive collection of postage stamps --  many of them from Germany. "He had volumes of books filled with stamps that he had categorized and cross-referenced in every different way," said daughter-in-law Sandi Ehrhart. "I can't remember a time he wasn't collecting stamps," said son John.

Mr. Ehrhart's family roots were in Germany. It was one place the well-heeled traveler had always wanted to visit. "He taught himself German and collected German artifacts. About a decade ago, Mr. Ehrhart finally convinced his wife to visit Germany. But as soon as they landed, Mrs. Ehrhart broke her foot and the couple turned around and came right back home," family members said. He spent less than 24 hours there.

But Mr. Ehrhart took the aborted trip in stride. He just said "that's just the way it goes," said son John.

Mr. Ehrhart is survived by his three children: sons John of Snellville; Charles of Lawrenceville, and daughter Cindy Hayes of Stone Mountain. He has 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.