Longtime Woodside resident Wolfgang O. Eisenhut, a scientist, horseman and community leader, died on Sept. 12 at his ranch in Gardnerville, Nevada, at the age of 89.
Eisenhut was born in Heidelberg, Germany, where he lived until completing his doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Heidelberg. He met his wife-to-be, Ursula Maron, in the university's chemistry laboratory. They married in 1954 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
The couple moved to California in 1955 when Wolfgang Eisenhut was offered a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford. Following the fellowship, Eisenhut worked in research and development for Shell Research in Emeryville for many years until the facility moved to Houston. He was later vice president of research and development at Adhesive Engineering in San Carlos until that facility was closed and moved to Cleveland.
Then in his 60s, instead of retiring, Eisenhut co-founded ChemCo Systems to make advances in the epoxies previously offered by Adhesive Engineering. ChemCo, which is headquartered in Redwood City, manufactures epoxy adhesives used in construction and ultra-durable epoxy asphalt. The company's epoxy asphalt is used on the Golden Gate Bridge, the new Bay Bridge, and on bridges worldwide, including more than 35 long-span bridges in China.
ChemCo's epoxy repair products are used internationally at locations ranging from Disneyland and Universal Studios to a Siemens nuclear facility in Africa and a large water pipeline repair project in Turkey.
Eisenhut continued to work at ChemCo most days of the week until his death.
He was a quiet, unassuming and brilliant scientist, researcher, polymer formulator and innovator, family members say. While at Stanford, he discovered, isolated and named a new molecule (fabacein) with anti-tumor and other therapeutic properties. He was awarded at least five patents and published dozens of technical papers on a wide variety of topics, many far outside of chemistry.
Eisenhut was also passionate about horses and riding. He successfully bred, raised and trained several champion thoroughbreds. Until his mid-80s he was often found riding his black stallion on many of the trails in Woodside, where the family moved in 1960. He also loved skiing, hiking and outdoor activities at Lake Tahoe. He was a patient ski instructor and hiking escort to his children and grandchildren, all of whom grew to share his love of the slopes and outdoors, his family says.
Locally, Eisenhut was president of both the Woodside Community Foundation and the Woodside Junior Riders, and worked behind the scenes on many projects.
He is survived by his wife, Ursula Eisenhut of Woodside; son Ralph (Julie) Eisenhut of Mill Valley and daughter Susie (John) Bors of Woodside; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Family members say that because Eisenhut was not an advocate of organized public displays of sadness, no formal services are planned.