John Roland Winkelmann, professor emeritus of biology at Gettysburg College, died peacefully on Tuesday, October 13th, surrounded by his family. He was born on August 2, 1931 in Champaign-Urbana, IL, to the late lawyer Roland E. Winkelmann and Gail Gaunt Winkelmann. John is survived by his beloved wife of 58 years, Helen Janosik Winkelmann von Gettysburg; Daughter Anne Louise Winkelmann from Atlanta, GA; Son Richard Janosik Winkelmann and his wife Cynthia von Gettysburg; Son David Janosik Winkelmann and wife Heather from Fairfield, CT; and son James Gaunt Winkelmann and wife Hillary of Richmond, VA. John and Helen have 6 grandchildren: Abigail and Lily Winkelmann, Madeleine and Thomas Winkelmann and Vivian and Henry Winkelmann.
John graduated from Urbana High School in 1950, earned a BA in Zoology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and an MS in Zoology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he met his future wife Helen as a fellow student. His training was interrupted by two years of service in the US Army, which was stationed in a medical department in Germany.
In 1963, John accepted an apprenticeship at Gettysburg College, where he trained thousands of life sciences students for 50 years, many of whom had careers in science and medicine themselves. John's early career focused on field research in Arizona, Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize, where he specialized in basic research on mammalian populations. In the hills of the Mexican Sierra Madre outside of Chiapas, he collected a specimen copy of the Mexican deer mouse Peromyscus Winkelmanni ("Winkelmann's mouse"), which was later named in his honor.
In the second half of his career, John changed continents and landed him and his students and colleagues in Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Britain Island in the Solomon Islands, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and most lovingly in the South African national parks – the lion's share of which he spent in Kruger National Park. Known internationally as a bat research expert, John was a member of the Board of Directors of the North American Society for Bat Research, which presented a 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award for a long and prestigious career in bat biology and only the third has been a recipient since the award began .
In addition to teaching and research, John served as a bat consultant for the BBC television series David Attenborough and for a National Geographic Society film about bats. On numerous occasions, he gave his time and expertise to the Neighborhood Watch Bat Bat Removal Committee, and at least once gave his advice to the Gettysburg Times in a column on chimney removal.
Notable contributions to the scientific literature include articles submitted to various professional societies, textbook and magazine articles, and numerous publications in the Journal of Mammalogy, Biotropica, the Journal of Tropical Ecology, and others.
John's love of travel, exploring new places, and the natural world ran deep into his personal life. As a boy who grew up in Illinois, he loved hunting, fishing, and riding his horse. He spent the summers canoeing, fishing, and boating at the family home in White Lake, MI, and carried on the tradition with his own family for many years. They then turned south and landed in Topsail Beach, NC, where the extended family spent decades sailing, crab fishing, fishing, boating and of course bird watching. John was an avid bird watcher who logged species on 5 continents and instilled the same love for wildlife and outdoor adventure in his children.
In his more relaxed moments, John was an armchair historian and voracious reader interested in the social, political, and military history of the United States. John created a contrast to his scientific side and cultivated a love of art: He played the guitar and loved music of all kinds and was occupied with painting. Lastly, John was a huge sports fan and kept his greatest passion for his beloved Chicago Cubs. His lifelong loyalty was finally rewarded in 2016 when the Cubs finally broke the Wrigley curse to win the World Series. Win cubs!
He will be greatly missed by his children and grandchildren, for whom he has been an ubiquitous supporter of all of their academic, athletic and recreational activities.
Instead of flowers, the family humbly asks for donations on John's behalf to one of the following organizations: St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church; Helen J. Winkelmann Scholarship from Gettysburg College; Conservation and National Audubon Society.
A Christian Celebration Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Gettysburg, PA. The family will receive friends on Friday, October 16, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Monahan Funeral Home in Gettysburg. Online obituary and condolences at monahanfuneralhome.com.
This obituary was originally published here.