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In Loving Memory of
Dr. F. Henry Firsching

Dr. F. Henry Firsching, 94, passed away at 8:20 p.m. on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, at Alton Memorial Hospital. He was born on June 22, 1923, in Utica, New York, the son of the late Norbert J. and Julia (Kaelin) Firsching, Sr. He married the former Shirley Gardner on September 26, 1954, in Ruby Valley, Nevada, and she survives. Other survivors include three daughters: Kay Lynne Firsching and her husband: Joseph C. Miller of St. Louis, Wendy Firsching of Highland, IL, Kathryn Firsching and her husband Frank Chudy of Enterprise, Alabama, three sons: Dr. Michael H. Firsching and his wife Estelle Strauss of Edwardsville, Joel T. Firsching of Edwardsville, Matthew W. Firsching and his wife: Eun - Hee Cho of Edwardsville, fifteen grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, two sisters: Winifred Buehler of Utica, New York and, Rosemary Firsching of North Carolina, and many other extended family and friends.

Dr. Firsching lived the American Dream. He was the son of parents who never completed high school, and he himself had to drop out of high school to help feed his family during the Great Depression. He was drafted into the U.S. Army during WW II at the age of nineteen, where he served for over three years in communications as a radar and radio operator. After the war ended, he obtained his GED while setting type in a print shop. Using the GI Bill, he was able to complete not only his undergraduate degree, but also his masters, and part of a Ph.D degree in chemistry at Syracuse University in New York. 

After graduation with a B.S., he worked as a research chemist for several companies before receiving his first teaching post as a professor of chemistry at the University of Georgia in Athens in the early 1960’s. Students complained that as a New Yorker he talked too fast. Nevertheless, he successfully taught one of the first African American students to integrate the school. Henry accepted a position as a founding faculty at the start-up campus of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville where he taught for twenty-eight years until his retirement. During his time as a professor, Dr. Firsching became widely known for his research on the rare earth series of elements that resulted in the publication of thirty scientific papers—including establishing their solubility data and inventing separation schemes for barium and strontium. He became a weekly columnist and had a matching radio show called “Think About It” for twelve years. After retirement, he became an author of two books – “The God Hypothesis” and “The Most Intriguing Story Ever Told.” He was an enthusiastic rock hound who loved geology, and fossils, and enjoyed birding and poetry.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one sister: Esther Dyman and one brother: Norbert J. Firsching, Jr.

Thomas Saksa Funeral Home 2205 Pontoon Rd Granite City IL 62040  618-876-4321
Saksa Mateer Funeral Home  210 N. Kansas Edwardsville IL 62025  618-656-7577

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