Community celebrates life of Dr. Gene Gooch

Hundreds of mourners paid tribute April 7 to the life of Edgar Eugene Gooch III, a professor of chemistry remembered for the grace and gentleness that served as “a hallmark for all his interactions.” Gooch died last week when a passing car hit his bicycle on University Drive north of campus.

Family, faculty and students filled the Elon Community Church for the late morning service that included remarks from his chemistry colleague Gene Grimley and senior Samantha Engelhardt, and a reflection performed by Jon Metzger, an associate professor of music.

University chaplain Richard McBride presided over the service, along with Dan Kuhn, senior minister at the church.

“It is sad to lose him so suddenly, so randomly, so inexplicably,” McBride said. “It’s hard to comprehend, especially for those of us in a university community used to getting our mind around things.”

Those who spoke recounted Gooch’s love of jazz music; his self-deprecating humor; playing the keyboard and video games; his photography; and his love of his wife, Marcia, who he married on Valentine’s Day “so that he wouldn’t forget” their anniversaries.

“He constantly pushed me to solve my problems because he knew I could, even when I didn’t,” Englehardt said of her work with Gooch, and the high standards he had for his students. “Dr. Gooch will be greatly missed … he made me and others better off for having known him.”

Chemistry professor Gene Grimley (right) shares reflections on his colleague while Dan Wright, associate professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, lends moral support.

Gooch, 57, was killed April 3 when a motorist approaching him from behind on University Drive failed to see him biking on the road.

He joined the Elon faculty in 1988 and was an active scholar and mentor to his students. He specialized in chemical education and organic chemistry, and was an authority on nuclear magnetic resonance, natural products, organic synthesis and molecular modeling.

“Students recognized that his inner strength was a result of the fact that he was always at peace with himself,” Grimley said. “His grace and gentleness was his hallmark in all his interactions.”

Hundreds of people gathered April 7 in Elon Community Church to say farewell to professor Eugene Gooch, who died April 3 when he was hit by a car while riding his bike.