William Ehrich, a Modest, Reverent Artist
John Rothwell Slater
94 Belleview
© 1960, Reprinted from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York

William E. Ehrich was my friend, my teacher, and collaborator in the making of many memorials. He was a modest artist who never despaired of art. Like his beloved predecessor, Ewald Eiserhardt, he brought the best of old Germany to new Rochester. As artist and craftsman he combined exacting discipline in execution with free initiative in design.

He was patient with beginners, encouraging to any real talent, however slight. He welcomed innovation in young or old. Emancipation from obsolete traditions and conventions, joined with reverence for all truly great achievements of past ages, made him an inspiring teacher.

Versatility in materials - wood, stone, ceramics, bronze, even stainless steel - made him an expert designer for academic memorial plaques which now adorn the River Campus. Such portrait reliefs as those of Charles Hoeing and Frank W. Lovejoy in college dormitories will endure for centuries, to remind undergraduates of scholars and artists who made the university what it is.

His lettering for inscriptions, in slender capitals of his own design, equaled the quiet refinement of those silent bronze faces from the past.

In designing the meridian marker on the Eastman Quadrangle we worked together. My idea of a true-north diameter on a compass circle, surrounded by stars, with a hint of something more beyond the stars, appealed to him. All details of the design, the precise drawing of lines, curves, and stars for the engravers, too, were his own. No one else could have done it.

Many of his sculptures and ceramics are in private hands, but all may share the uplift of his public monuments on the campus and in the parks. His head of Goethe in Highland Park, with its alertness, vigor, and aspiration, reminds one of the first and last lines of Goethe's Wanderer's Night Song:

Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh:
Warte nur, bald ruhest du auch.