Hans Olaf Pfannkuch, resident of St. Anthony Park for 52 years, died Nov. 19, 2020, five days short of his 88th birthday.
Born in Berlin in 1932, he grew up in a place and time that clearly shaped his worldview, a deep understanding of what matters in life and what it means to be a good and decent human. He loved life—the arts, humor, science, deep and creative thinking and travel but above all, connecting with people. Had he not walked into the Sorbonne office to collect his scholarship fund while earning his doctorate, he would never have met Georgette, who married him despite his difficult last name.
With two young kids in tow and one on the way, they sailed to the U.S. in 1965. As a professor at the University of Minnesota for 42 years, he was a distinguished expert in his field of hydrogeology and was respected worldwide. He was one of those rare mentors who taught kindness and generosity in equal parts to intellectual pursuits, a legacy that cascades forward as those students in turn teach and lead others by example.
Survived by his daughters Karin (Steve) Vanzyl, Barbara (Dan Brown) Pfannkuch and son Johannes (JoBeth) Pfannkuch; four grandchildren; his sister in Germany, Karin “Littla” (Gunter) Nölker and special friend, Beate Cochclovius.
A celebration honoring this special man is destined for this summer. Memorials may be made to the Hans-Olaf Pfannkuch Scholarship fund, which allows hydrogeology students to continue studies at the hydrogeology field camp at mgwa.org/mgwa-foundation/.