In memory of Fred Pfaender, dedicated teacher and mentor in environmental microbiology
March 23, 2022
The community at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health remembers the life of Frederic Karl Pfaender, PhD, emeritus professor of environmental sciences and engineering, who passed away on March 9 at the age of 78.
Pfaender was born on Aug. 5th, 1943, in Los Angeles County, California, to the late Karl and Martha Struble Pfaender.
After earning his doctoral degree at Cornell University in 1971, Pfaender taught environmental sciences and microbiology at the School of Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill for over 40 years. A loyal member of the American Society for Microbiology for 56 years, Fred travelled internationally in service of his chosen science and proudly mentored graduate and doctoral students. Pfaender also contributed to building and renovation plans for Rosenau Hall and Michael Hooker Research Center.
“Fred was a faculty member who was hard to ignore,” said Russell Christman, PhD, emeritus professor and former department chair of environmental sciences and engineering. “Always funny and occasionally profound, he led the department’s efforts in environmental science via his research and external appointments. He will be deeply missed.”
When he and his wife Sheila retired to Alleghany County, North Carolina, in the late 2000s, Pfaender refocused his passion and energy on several community-oriented committees and initiatives, such as the Alleghany Wellness Center, the Alleghany Wellness Coalition and Music on Main Community Music Festival.
“Always gregarious and outgoing, Fred appreciated great food and times around the table with his family and others, loved a good laugh and sought to better the lives of those around him,” his family wrote. “Family was everything to Fred, and nothing brought a bigger smile to his face than time with his dedicated and loving wife, son and daughter, grandsons, and extended family.”
He is survived by his wife, Sheila Pfaender, who is former assistant director for program and resource development at the N.C. Institute for Public Health; one daughter, Annika Pfaender and husband Joshua Purvis of Greensboro; one son, Gregory Pfaender and fiancé Jennifer Salomé of Durham; two grandsons, Alexander Purvis and Gabriel Purvis; one sister, Julie Ann Lehenbauer and husband Jim of Long Beach, California; and two nephews, John Lehenbauer and Jared Lehenbauer.
A celebration of life may be held at a date to be determined later.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Save-A-Pet Foundation of Alleghany County, N.C. (the rescue where Riley, the Pfaender family’s beloved Husky mix, was adopted) at P.O. Box #44, Sparta, NC 28675, or the charity of the donor’s choice.
To make a gift to the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in Pfaender’s memory, visit the Gillings School giving page.
The Pfaender family extended a special thanks to Alleghany County EMS and the first responders.
Condolences may be sent to the Pfaender Family at PO Box #335, Roaring Gap, NC 28668
Online condolences may be submitted to the family through the Grandview Memorial Funeral Home tribute.
Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at email@example.com.