Herbert "Herb" E. Ellinger obituary

Contact: Mark Schwerin

Herbert "Herb" E. Ellinger, professor emeritus of transportation technology, died Thursday, May 25. He was 96.

Herb Ellinger

Ellinger came to Kalamazoo in 1942 as a flight instructor during World War II, joining what was then Western Michigan College in 1944. He earned a bachelor's degree from WMU in 1949 and a master's degree from the University of Michigan in 1951.

Ellinger filled a variety of roles at WMU over 41 years of service. A former aircraft mechanic, he taught vocational aviation mechanics from 1944 to 1952 and vocational auto mechanics from 1952 to 1960 and was named an associate professor in 1954. He taught automotive engineering technology for many years, beginning in 1960 and also was acting head of the Department of Transportation Technology from 1966 to 1967. The automotive technology program he started blossomed into a nationally recognized program within the automotive industry. He retired from WMU in 1983.

Ellinger wrote two books, "Automechanics," published in 1972, and "Automotive Engines," published in 1974. He also was co-author, with Richard B. Hathaway, WMU assistant professor of transportation technology, of the textbook, "Automotive Suspension, Steering and Brakes," published in 1979, and was an editor for Prentice Hall automotive textbooks. He also wrote numerous articles in professional journals.

Ellinger was the chief final judge on all National Plymouth Trouble Shooting Contests, beginning with the first in 1962. He also developed the written examinations that were used for the local and national contests.

Ellinger was a committee chair for the first National Automotive Service/Vocational Education Conference in March 1974 and chaired a committee of the Industry Planning Council assigned to rewrite the Standards for Automotive Instruction in post-high school training. He was a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the National Association of College Automotive teachers, among others.

During vacations, he worked in industry, including as a development engineer in air motor development for Humphrey Products, a line mechanic for the H.J. Cooper Dodge dealer and as a technical observer for the American Automobile Association Sanctioned Fuel Test.

Before coming to WMU, he was head mechanic for a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, flying service from 1939 to 1940 and was crew chief at the Missouri Institute of Aeronautics from 1941 to 1942.

Ellinger and his wife, Christine, became involved in Christian missions through the United Methodist Church and GO International. They traveled to Congo twice, where he worked on airplanes, vehicles, small engines and whatever needed to be fixed while teaching mechanics how to do further repairs.

Services and remembrances

A service was held in June. Memorials may be made to Westwood United Methodist Church for Samuteb Hospital in Congo. For his personalized page, go to langelands.com.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.