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“From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks” is a biography celebrating the life and accomplishments of Charles W. Gehrke, 1917-2009. The book was written through a collaboration between Charles and Dianna Borsi O’Brien prior to his death.

O’Brien is available for talks and presentations. You can contact her at dobrien387@gmail.com or by telephone at 573.424.5749.

It was published March 2017 and a signed copy can be purchased below. The book also is available in Columbia at Yellow Dog Bookshop, 8 S. Ninth St., the Columbia Mall bookstore Barnes & Noble and the bookstore at Boone County History and Culture Center at 3801 Ponderosa St.

You can get it electronically from Barnes & Noble, amazon.com. or buy a signed copy via this website for $20 plus tax and shipping.

You can also buy a signed copy of the book for $20 plus tax and shipping by clicking “Buy Now” below.

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So what’s From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks about?

Charles W. Gehrke was unflinching. Determined. Persistent.

He grew up among the poorest of the poor, yet carried only happy memories of those early years. Out of necessity, he learned the value of hard work, as he and his brother helped support their family even as children — but he never complained and never stopped working even during his final days on this earth.

In the 1960s, his work searching for amino acids, the building blocks of life, drew the attention of NASA which would soon launch missions to the moon. Charles was tapped to investigate the lunar samples for signs of life. Spoiler alert: He didn’t find any — but a transcript I uncovered of a radio program from that time shows that he thought he would.

In 1968, he did something else unusual at the time and brought his research to the marketplace, launching ABC Labs, a firm that employed about 300 people prior to its buy out by global firm EAG Laboratories. It will soon be a part of Eurofins Scientific, a Brussels-based firm with EUR 2.54 in annual revenues, 30,000 employees and 375 sites in 41 countries, according to a Eurofins news release announcing the acquisition.

The book doesn’t ignore the other side of Charles’s life. His oldest son was killed in a plane crash in 1982 and his death haunted Charles all his life. Another dark time took place during the early 1990s when Charles found himself embroiled in a vicious power struggle that threatened to sink ABC Labs.

Despite those and other difficulties, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks” is a rags-to-riches story that highlights the adventurous life of Charles W. Gehrke, a biochemist, entrepreneur, and family man.





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