Henry William Offen came into this world as Heinrich Wilhelm Albert Offen in Uelzen, Germany, on April 28, 1937. He left his frail body at his Carpinteria home surrounded by his family, pets and garden on Sunday, April 25, just three days before his 73rd birthday.
The Offen family immigrated to the United States in 1953. Henry graduated from Harmony High School in Minnesota in 1954. The owner of the bank in Harmony noticed Henry’s academic ability and graciously gave financial assistance for Henry’s four years at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Henry graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Chemistry June, 1958. That summer found him on the road to UCLA in his beloved 1949 Ford (with fender skirts) where he became a graduate student in the Chemistry Department.
Two years later as a Physical Chemistry teaching assistant, Henry met his future wife, Roberta (Bobbie) Gluckman, an undergraduate in Chemistry. They married in the fall of 1961 and their son Karl Henry was born December, 1962, one day before Bobbie’s birthday and six months after Bobbie’s graduation. Henry received the Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry June 1963 and the small family moved up the coast to Santa Barbara. That summer Henry accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the UCSB Chemistry Department. Daughter Julia Lynn joined the family July 1964.
During his more than 40 years at UCSB, in addition to attaining the rank of Professor, Henry was Associate Dean of the Graduate Division, Acting Director for numerous departments, Director of the Marine Science Institute, Natural Land and Water Reserves System, Natural Reserve System, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry (1994), and following retirement was recalled as Interim Director of the Natural Reserve System (NRS). He was instrumental in helping to bring the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, Sierra Nevada Aquatic Reserve, Coal Oil Point Reserve, Carpinteria Salt Marsh, Santa Cruz Island Reserve, Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve, and Sedgwick Reserve into the UCSB Natural Reserve System of protected natural land. Henry was the author or co-author of over 80 research publications in physical chemistry, specifically high-pressure spectroscopy. He supervised ten PhD graduates and eight Master’s graduates.
Along with his family, one of Henry’s greatest loves was his garden, which at one time included over 100 fruit trees and berry vines. His garden not only supplied fruits and vegetables to the family, the friends, the neighbors, and colleagues of Bobbie’s, but also to the animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Henry was diagnosed with GIST in the fall of 2001. In spite of the ups and downs associated with this type of cancer, he and Bobbie managed several wonderful trips to visit relatives and National Parks, and he taught several seminars in the UCSB Freshman Honors program as a volunteer. He felt very strongly about the wonders of the natural world, and that one of the most valuable gifts he could to bring to these youngsters was to open their eyes to the global issues involved in living sustainably and preserving our planet for the future.
In addition to Bobbie, his wife of 48 ½ years, Henry leaves his two children, Dr. Julia Offen, Dr. Karl Offen (engaged to Dr. Chie Sakakibara), his granddaughter Antonia Gitana Rodriguez Offen, Antonia’s mother Dr. Clemencia Rodriguez, his two sisters: Magdalene Hagedorn (Dr. Henry Hagedorn), Gisela Sadler (Dan Sadler), his brother, Dr. Walter Offen (Susie Offen), his uncle Gerhard Offen (Lillian Offen), in-laws Sara & Doug Miller, Patricia Leupold, and many nieces, nephews and cousins both in the US and Germany. He was preceded in death by his father, Henry Offen and his mother, Magdalena Meyer Offen.