Edward O. Falberg

  • BS Metallurgical Engineering 1943
Ed Falberg is fascinated with air travel and believes airplanes are the most significant technological development of his time. Falberg was born in 1921, just eighteen years this side of the Wright Brothers' first flight. "It's made the earth a little smaller," he says of air travel, and he and his wife Jeanne have flown all over our small world, from near to far.

They have been members of the Nomads Flying Club in Detroit for twenty years. The group has its own jet airplane and shuttles people to familiar and exotic places, from Chicago to Copenhagen. The couple's interest in travel persists, in contrast to another of their passions: sailing. They were avid recreational sailors who plied the expansive waters of Lake Michigan. Over the years, they have had five vessels. Now they no longer sail. "It takes agility," Falberg says, and he is 87.

Retired since 1982, he and Jeanne split their time between Traverse City, Michigan, and Oro Valley, Arizona. They have three daughters, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Falberg considers himself blessed: good health, good family, what was a good career - all of it topped off with good memories, especially about Michigan Tech. "I love Michigan Tech," he says. "It gave me a lot. I've been successful in my business life, and Michigan Tech did that for me. It taught me how to reason and think. It's a great university." Which is not to say easy. "I had to struggle to get through," he says. He directed a brother, two nephews, a niece, and a granddaughter to Tech.

A native of Birmingham, Michigan, Falberg trekked to Houghton in 1939, when the Mackinac Bridge "was still a dream." Those were more spartan times. He worked in the summer, and his parents helped pay his way through college. "In those days, if you had a hundred dollars a month, you could make it," he says. His was the first class to live in Douglass Houghton Hall. A room was ten dollars; board and tuition were "insignificant."

An ROTC graduate in 1943, Falberg was eager to join the army and serve in World War II. He was a captain in the Corps of Engineers and landed in Normandy on "D-day plus seven," which was June 13, 1944. He was in the Battle of the Bulge and part of the push to Paris. He earned a Bronze Star for outstanding service. He recalls the national mood at the time, when people were resolute. "It was a war to be won," he says.

Having earned his bachelor's degree in metallurgical and materials engineering, Falberg spent most of his career with Gulf and Western Manufacturing Co., in Southfield, Michigan, where he retired in 1982 as president of the metals group. Besides his education, loyalty was another key to his success - "a dedication to the people I worked for - recognizing their goals and helping to support them."

There's a tough aspect to his success. "You end up being the leader and sometimes you have to lay people off. That's a tough thing. It's like a death in the family. You do what you have to do."

His wife Jeanne encourages his support of Tech. "She should be an honorary member of the Alumni Association," he says. "She prods me." They are members of the McNair Society and have established an endowed scholarship. Falberg served on the Tech Fund's Board of Trustees from 1973-1983 and has received the Board of Control Silver Medal and the Distinguished Alumni Award (1989).

He went through the Great Depression and worries about the current economic malaise. "I'm concerned about the country and how our children are going to handle it," he says. "I just pray for the success of our next generation." His own success pronounced, Ed Falberg is asked how he wants to be remembered. He pauses, and Jeanne answers for him: "Father and grandfather," she says.


Excerpted from Trustee Link, Michigan Tech Fund/Spring 2009