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Steve Weinberg and From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks June 21, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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Steve Weinberg, a Columbia-based investigative journalist and author of six books, will be introducing Dianna Borsi O’Brien at the Thursday, June 22 reading/signing of From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.

The event will be 5 to 7 p.m. in the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St. If you can’t attend, the book will continue to be on sale at the BCHS as well as Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St.

Of course, all books are works of many hands, but in this case, Weinberg literally helped the book get started.

In 2007, Jon Gehrke called Weinberg about possibly working with Charles W. Gehrke to write his biography but Weinberg didn’t have space in his schedule. So Weinberg suggested Jon Gehrke call his former graduate student and fellow journalist O’Brien — and as they say, the rest is history.

From 2007 to 2009, O’Brien and Charles W. Gehrke worked on the book that outlines Gehrke’s childhood, from his childhood poverty growing up in Canal Lewisville, Ohio, near Coshocton, to his education at Ohio State University to his arrival at the University of Missouri, his NASA work analyzing the moon rocks of the Apollo mission, founding of ABC Labs, which employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout, and his family life along the way.

Yet, the book was more than the product of Gehrke and O’Brien’s efforts. The University of Missouri Archives office found crucial materials including a recording of a radio show from the 1970s that featured Gehrke speculating that scientists might actually find life on the moon, something we scoff at today.

Dozens of people gave their time during interviews, replied to email queries and helped during the reporting process for the book. Then when the manuscript was ready, the first edit was done by Karen Pojmann, a fellow journalist who has worked as an editor with several publications. The manuscript went through several other edits as well as the design process by Ginny Booker and publishing processes by Yolanda Ciolli of Compass Flower Press.

And along the way, Weinberg was there with suggestions, support and guidance. Now, he’ll get to give the introduction before the reading and book signing of the author of a book he literally started.

Other options

Can’t attend?

  • Come to see O’Brien at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Barnes & Noble in the Columbia Mall for local author’s day.
  • Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St. has the book on its shelves.
  • Contact O’Brien via this website and receive the book by mail for $20 plus tax and shipping.  Buy Now Button
  • The book is on amazon.com as well.

 

 

 

Learn the hows and whys of a fine pairing June 20, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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On Thursday at a book signing and reading, author Dianna Borsi O’Brien will be talking about how and why the book From the Melon Fields to Moon Rocks came about.

The signing and reading will be 5 to 7 p.m. on June 22 in the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St.

The book is a biography of a man, entrepreneur and scientist, a result that came about through a fine pairing of a determined man, Charles W. Gehrke, and a persistent, determined journalist. Yes, a fine pairing.

It all started when Jon Gehrke called O’Brien and said he was looking for a writer to help his father write his life’s story. He said they already had a title for the book. O’Brien asked why his father deserved a book. Yes, journalists ask those kind of rude questions.

From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks cover 032917

Jon said his father was an internationally known scientist. In Columbia, with the University of Missouri and two other colleges, the journalist said, those kinds of experts are fairly common. Jon said his father was an entrepreneur as well, having founded ABC Labs, now EAG Laboratories.

O’Brien noted again that in Columbia, Missouri, there are many entrepreneurs. Finally, the journalist noted something unusual about this interchange. The son of a well-known scientist and entrepreneur was calling. Not all successful scientists and business people manage to maintain close, warm family ties that would spur a son to call a cranky, questioning journalist like O’Brien.

Finally, O’Brien said she’d take the job if and only if Charles Gehrke called her. She had no interest in working with someone who wasn’t as determined about the project as she would be.

Several months later, Gehrke called O’Brien to set up a lunch meeting. During that first meeting, the last crucial hurdle came when O’Brien asked Gehrke if he wanted a biography that glossed over anything unpleasant or would she have the freedom to tell about whatever she found? The answer was tell it the way it was.

A fine pairing indeed. The two worked together from 2007 until Gehrke’s 2009 death. Then O’Brien continued to finish the book, using archival materials Gehrke had had stored in his basement, documents from the University of Missouri archives and family archives. Research for the book included interviews with dozens of Gehrke’s family members, friends, associates and former scientist colleagues.

The book, said John Bucksath, an employee of ABC Labs from 1989-2015, including three years as president and CEO, is accurate and concise, and reveals the chemistry that made Gehrke special. He noted, “Anyone who thinks they know Dr. Gehrke’s story should read this book to truly understand the man’s contribution not only to science, but his legacy to his family, the Columbia, Missouri community and beyond.”

The book signing and reading will include a more prosaic pairing. It will include light refreshments and soft drinks and wine for adults. The book will be for sale with or without the signature of the author.

Come and learn how the book went from a son’s suggestion to a biography of a man who rose from poverty to scientific stature that led to his opportunity to analyze moon rocks and start a company that employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout by EAG Laboratories.

 

 

 

Yellow Dog and Moon Rocks June 9, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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So what does Yellow Dog Bookshop have to do with moon rocks? The bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St., Columbia, is now selling the book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.”

The book is about Charles W. Gehrke, who analyzed for life the moon rocks brought back from the NASA Apollo moon missions from 1969-1972. Gehrke also founded Columbia-based ABC Labs, which employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout by global firm EAG Laboratories.

The book, "From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks", now for sale at Yellow Dog Bookshop on Ninth Street, Columbia, Missouri.

The book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks”, now for sale at Yellow Dog Bookshop on Ninth Street, Columbia, Missouri.

If you’d like a signed copy, author Dianna Borsi O’Brien will be signing and reading from the book from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 22 at the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St., Columbia, Missouri. RSVP to dobrien387@gmail.com

Or you can buy a signed copy of the biography and have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

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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 was the first tenant of Columbia, Missouri’s research park, Discovery Ridge. The company employed 300 people before it was purchased by EAG Laboratories, a global scientific services company headquartered in San Diego.

The book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks highlights the adventurous life of Charles W. Gehrke, a biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book was published March 2017.

Buy it here now:

Have a signed copy shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

 

 

June 22 signing of From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks June 7, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events, Publications.
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Come and enjoy light snacks, wine and a reading from the newly published book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.” The event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 22, 2017 in the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St., Columbia, Missouri.

The book follows Charles W. Gehrke from his poor childhood in the foothills of the Appalachians to his success as a scientist who analyzed the moon rocks brought back from the Apollo moon landings and an entrepreneur who founded with two colleagues ABC Labs, which employed 300 people before its 2015 buyout by a global firm.

The book will be for sale at the Boone County Historical Society at the event and then in the BCHS’s shop from then on.

What? Can’t make it to this event? More events are coming!

The book is also available directly from the author, Dianna Borsi O’Brien, via this website.

Now available — the biography of Charles W. Gehrke, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.

You can buy a signed copy here by clicking the PayPal button below.

The book is also available through  amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel.

A signing and book launch is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Orr Street Studios, 106 Orr Street, Columbia. RSVP to Dianna O’Brien at dobrien387@gmail.com

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

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 the author 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. The company thrived and before its buy out in 2015 it employed about 300 people. Today, ABC Labs now part of EAG Laboratories, a global scientific services company headquartered in San Diego.

The book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks highlights the adventurous life of Charles W. Gehrke, a biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book was released in April 2017.

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

 

Available now — From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks March 30, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events, Publications.
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Now available — the biography of Charles W. Gehrke, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks cover 032917

You can buy a signed copy here by clicking the PayPal button below.

The book is also available through  amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel.

A signing and book launch is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Orr Street Studios, 106 Orr Street, Columbia. RSVP to Dianna O’Brien at dobrien387@gmail.com

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

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 the author 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. The company thrived and before its buy out in 2015 it employed about 300 people. Today, ABC Labs now part of EAG Laboratories, a global scientific services company headquartered in San Diego.

The book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks highlights the adventurous life of Charles W. Gehrke, a biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book was released in April 2017.

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

ABC Labs’ CEO Byron Hill steps down September 7, 2011

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Uncategorized.
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ABC Labs saw Bryon Hill, its CEO depart suddenly according to reports on Sept. 2, 2011 in an article headlined “Hill retires as CEO of ABC Labs,” by Jacob Barker in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

But as the book From the Melon Fields to the Moon shows, ABC Labs has had many unusual departures of CEOs and ups and downs.

The company was started by Charles W. Gehrke with Jim Ussary, who would go on to become its first CEO, David Stalling, who would later work for ABC Labs and spin off a company from the firm, and a fourth man, rarely mentioned, who was bought out early in ABC Lab’s history.

Ussary headed up the firm from its inception in 1968 until 1975, the same year the company posted its first positive net income, $86,501. Ralph Waltz took over as CEO, but some say he was forced out in 1990. By then the company posted $1.1 million in net profit. Larry Stambaugh took over until 1992, with his shift from leadership preceded by a vicious and very public stockholders fight, described in detail in a July 24, 1992, Columbia Daily Tribune article headlined, “ABCs of a corporate battle,” written by Theodore P. Roth.

The next CEO was Jake Halliday, now the CEO of the Missouri Innovation Center. Hill took over from Halliday in 2004 and oversaw the company during an expansion phase which has included moving to Discovery Ridge, expanding its campus on Interstate 70.

Yet, despite the history of ABC Labs, the company has thrived through the decades, going from one employee to its current 350-person staff.

The story of how the company has continued, with its ups and downs, is part of the story of Charles W. Gehrke’s life in the book he wrote prior to his 2009 death, From the Melon Fields to the Moon. The first three chapters of the book are available here.

 

Dr. Charles and Virginia Gehrke scholarship at ABC Labs August 31, 2011

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs.
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One of Charles W. Gehrke’s legacies is the Dr. Charles and Virginia Gehrke Scholarship offered to the children of ABC Labs employees.

Both Charles and Virginia Gehrke knew what it was like to struggle to pay for their education.

In fact, Charles always remembered exactly what it felt like to stand at the railroad station in Coshocton, Ohio, waiting for the train to take him to Columbus, Ohio, to attend Ohio State University.

“I had $80 in my pocket at the time. I don’t know why I remember that, but I do,” said Charles in his biography, From the Melon Fields to the Moon. That was money his brother Hank lent him along with some of the money he’d saved from their vegetable growing and selling operation, an operation that entailed Hank and Charles going house to house to sell the produce. Charles hated it. He hated asking for anything, even a sale.

But he did it because his family needed the money. Without a father to help support the family of five children, he and his brother worked hard to support the family.

But even with Hank’s help, Charles did everything he could to pay his own way, including washing dishes and taking all sorts of summer jobs.

And again he asked for help. He’d heard about the Stadium Scholarship dorm at Ohio State University during his first year at college and he knew the price was right; $100 a year for room, which included meals. In 1935, tuition was $75 a year.

The scholarship requirement of having to carry a B average didn’t worry Charles, but students had to be nominated for the honor of living in the Stadium Scholarship dorm.

So he went to see Bland Stradley, vice president at Ohio State University, who happened to live in Dresden, a town near Coshocton.

“I told him I didn’t have any money,” said Charles, and the next year, he had a place among about 300 men in the Stadium Scholarship dorm.

That’s why the establishment of the Dr. Charles and Virginia Gehrke makes so much sense. Now the children of ABC Labs employees won’t have to go door to door with vegetables or find a college official to ask for help; they can simply apply for a scholarship.

For more information on the scholarship, click here.