Karl Joseph Koenig was born on January 9, 1920, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Winnie and August Koenig. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1924 and he attended elementary and high school there. In 1937, he attended the University of Illinois and graduated in 1941 with a degree in Geology and a Second Liuetenant’s Commission in the Army Reserve. He was called into the service in June 1941 where he served as a Platoon Commander in a light tank battalion in Combat Command A of the 1st Armored Regiment. He was sent overseas to Northern Ireland and later to England where he was transferred to Combat Command Headquarters because of his ability to speak German. In December of 1942 his unit was sent to North Africa and was deployed to western Tunisia. He participated in the battles of Faid Pass and Kasserine Pass and received the Purple Heart for wounds during the final victory over the German African Corps at Bizerte, Tunisia. Ultimately, he was transferred to the Reconnaissance Company and moved to Italy where he took part in the landings at Anzio, Italy. He was awarded the Bronze Star for valor at Anzio. On June 4, 1942, he was severely wounded and returned to the United States for recovery. He was retired a Captain in September of 1945 and returned to the University of Illinois to obtain his Master’s and PhD degrees in Geology.
He worked for Shell Oil Company from 1949 until 1955 when he came to Texas A&M University as an Assistant Professor in Geology. Dr. Koenig taught at A&M through some remarkable years: the admission of women on a full-time basis in 1963, the change from a compulsory Corps of Cadets, a name change from a College to a University, the formation of a College of Geosciences and at least six or seven different presidents. He was appointed Assistant Department Head and ultimately was promoted to Associate Department Head until his retirement, at which time he was elevated to the status of Professor Emeritus in Geology.
Karl is survived by his beloved wife, Earlene Nedbalek Koenig, children Randy McKee and wife Teresa, Karen Vestal and husband Hubert, Janet Leffingwell and husband Larry, Doug McKee and wife Marsa and Mark Koenig and wife Kimberly, 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
He attended Grace Bible Church in College Station, Texas. Memorials can be made to The Purple Heart Foundation at www.purpleheartfoundation.org.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Grace Bible Church at 3 PM on Thursday, September 7, 2017 with Final Military Honors and a reception to follow.