In Memoriam

In memoriam: Karl A. Schellenberg

Pearce Hyatt
By Pearce Hyatt
June 17, 2024

Karl A. Schellenberg, a professor and the founding chair of biochemistry at Eastern Virginia Medical School, died April 10 at home in Virginia Beach. He was 92 and had been a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for 56 years.

Karl A. Schellenberg

Born in Hillsboro, Kansas, on July 13, 1931, the son of Alma and T.R. Schellenberg, he grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and received his B.S. degree from the College of William & Mary in 1953. He went on to earn an M.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1957 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University in 1963. After 10 years as an associate professor of chemistry at Johns Hopkins, he was recruited to the biochemistry department at the newly formed Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, and he served as the department’s chair from then until he retired in 1997.

Schellenberg’s research focused on a variety of biochemical reactions, including radiation damage to DNA molecules and tryptophan’s role in yeast metabolism. Over the course of his career, he received six patents for inventions that included medications, solid chromatography, and a soda-bottle cap liner. He was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa society in 1953 and Alpha Omega Alpha in 1993.

In retirement, Schellenberg remained active in his community of Norfolk. After Elizabeth B. Schellenberg, his wife of 57 years, died, he joined the Virginia Beach Widowed Persons Service Group to help others process their own grief. He visited the Virginia Beach Recreational Center daily, remaining both physically and socially active, until his death.

 Schellenberg is survived by his four children, Robert, Betty, Richard, and Margi; his eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; and his grade-school sweetheart, Virginia Conger, with whom he reconnected later in life.

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Pearce Hyatt
Pearce Hyatt

Pearce Hyatt is an incoming medical student at Wake Forest School of Medicine. He spent two years working at the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and is an ASBMB Today volunteer contributor.

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