Erwin "Erv"'s Story
After an amazing life and a long battle with illness, Erv passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of November 18. Erv leaves behind his daughter, Inga B. Schowengerdt; her wife, Sonja; his long-time companion, Billie Porter; and his former wife, Ingrid Regina. He was predeceased by his father, Erwin E. Schowengerdt Sr., and mother, Frances Martin Schowengerdt.
Erv was born and raised in St Louis, went to the University of Missouri for undergraduate studies and then earned his Masters at MIT in Mechanical Engineering. He had a long and successful career that spanned several decades and included working for Lincoln Lab, Draper Lab, and also NASA. He was most proud of his work on gyroscopes and guidance systems for the military and the space programs. After moving to Newburyport in 1973, alongside his professional career, he became a landlord and continued managing his rental units long after his retirement from engineering.
Outside of work, Erv had an adventurous spirit that brought him around the world several times over. If he wasn't skiing in the Alps, you may have found him doing archeological digs in Belize, digging up dinosaur bones in Montana, sailing the Fjords in Norway, biking across Europe on his red Triumph, canoeing down the Saco, or hiking with his daughter, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
His adventurous side was almost as impressive as his heart and generous spirit. He saw the good in every person he encountered, and always found a way to make them feel special. Recently, we learned that Erv would place a clementine in the mailboxes of tenants when he collected their monthly rent checks. Erv had a great sense of humor and was known to play pranks on and with his family and friends just for a laugh.
Erv read everything he could get his hands on, from the Economist to the Far Side. When not reading, he would spend hours hovered over his notebooks working on architectural drawings, which were intricate, elaborate and incredibly interesting.
Most important in Erv's life however, were the relationships he cultivated with the people he encountered. He did not just try to get to know the people that he saw every day, he was inclined to answer the phone for a telemarketer and engage them in hours long conversation. Erv loved to share stories of his adventures and experiences with people, almost as much as he loved to hear theirs.
Erv will be remembered for being an amazing daddy, his brilliance, kindness, tenderness, independence, stubbornness, mischievous grin, feistiness, gregarious spirit, and of course, riding through town on his 10 speed in short shorts.
His family and friends will come together to celebrate his life at the Grog on Wednesday, December 6, from 4 to 8 p.m. and would love for any and everyone who knew him to join them. If you have a story about Erv, or perhaps a favorite story he shared with you, his family would love to hear it or have you write it down for them. We will be collecting them at the Grog as well as after that evening to create a memorial to Erv.
The family requests no flowers, however, if you would like to make a donation in Erv's memory, some of his favorite organizations are Sierra Club, PBS, NPR, Earthwatch, Appalachian Mtn. Club, Smile Train, Pine Street Inn, and the Pettingill House.
Published on  December 1, 2017