George Emil Hugo Splittgerber was born on January 25, 1918, on a homestead in the Prairie Center, Wyo., community to parents Hugo and Mathea (Jorgensen) Splittgerber. He spent early childhood in Stanton, Neb., and received degrees in chemistry from the University of Nebraska in 1939 and a doctorate from Kansas State University in 1960.
Mr. Splittgerber worked as an industrial chemist for the Victor Chemical Works in Chicago Heights, Illinois, from 1940-42, and for the Sinclair Research and Development Company in East Chicago, Indiana, from 1942 to 1948, where he was engaged in laboratory and pilot plant research on synthetic rubber during World War II, and on lubricating oil additives after the war. He married Pearle Damkroger of DeWitt, Nebraska, in 1942. In 1948 the family moved to Fort Collins and that fall George began his 40 year teaching career at Colorado State University.
He spent summers in the early 1960s working with the hydrology branch of the U.S. Geological Survey studying the effects of mono-molecular films in reducing evaporation from water reservoirs. He served as director of eight National Science Foundation Summer Institutes for high school chemistry teachers at Colorado State University, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, and Loyola University in New Orleans. The Summer Institutes were attended by teachers from across the United States and among other topics, provided information about expectations for high school science background for incoming students planning to attend Colorado State University, the University of Colorado, or the University of Northern Colorado.
He served as chairman of the Committee on Institutes and Conferences of the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society, and as assistant chairman of the Colorado State University chemistry department for much of the 1970s, He retired from the university in 1988 after 40 years of service, continuing to make daily treks to the CSU library to read, relax and continue his personal research activities. In 2015, the George Splittgerber Scholarship in Chemistry was created by Dr. Glenn Boutilier and his wife Donna to honor George as a longtime professor.
His hobbies included writing, photography, music, and genealogical research. He was a member of various professional and honorary science and mathematics organizations. He was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Collins for more than 66 years, where he served in many capacities, from Sunday school superintendent to chairman of the church council.
As an avid traveler, George visited each of the 50 states at least twice, most of the Canadian provinces, and most countries of western Europe. He was an enthusiastic devotee of the Elderhostel Program, and attended more than 40 such programs across the country. His favorites included those at the Oregon Bach Festivals at the University of Oregon, and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, MD.
George Splittgerber was preceded in death by Pearle, his wife of 56 years; a granddaughter, Elizabeth; his parents; brother Ernest, and sister Bernice. He is survived by three sons, Ronald (and Vicky), Richard (and Meredith), and Gary, all of Fort Collins; by five grandchildren, Wendy (and Jeremy Eades), Heidi (and Victor Zuniga), Holly (and Nate Tuck), Johnathan (and Missy Splittgerber), and Emily Splittgerber, all of Fort Collins; and eight great grandchildren.
A celebration of life service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday July 25, Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 East Stuart Street in Fort Collins. In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that contributions be made to the George Splittgerber Scholarship at Colorado State University. Online donations may be made.