Brother Eric Vogel 1927-2000   

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We were very sad to hear the news of the death of our friend Brother Eric Vogel on June 24, 2000. Our collaboration with Brother Eric on the 12,000-photo Brousseau Collection was pivotal in the growth and direction of the collections of the Berkeley Digitial Library Project and CalPhotos. The Brousseau photographs, taken by Brother Eric's colleague and friend Brother Alfred Brousseau, became the foundation for the CalPhotos database, which delivers more than 500,000 photos a day to web users worldwide.

Brother Eric was Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California. He taught physics and math for many years at St. Mary's College and earlier at Bethlehem University in the West Bank, Israel. He was an avid fisherman and took every opportunity to go on long fishing trips. One of his other interests was viniculture, a topic that he published papers on, and he was for a time Technical Director of Production at Mont La Salle Winery, Napa, California.

In his retirement, Brother Eric became an early adopter of digital image technology as he sought a way to make the Brousseau wildflower slides publicly available. He sold notecards, calendars, and CDs of the photos and gave high-tech demonstrations to academics and non-profit and state agencies in his energetic quest to raise the $10,000 it would take to get all the slides digitalized. In 1996, officials from the California Department of Water Resources attended one of his presentations and introduced Brother Eric to us. We spent the next several years putting Brother Brousseau's photos online - first 8,000 wildflower photos, and then hundreds of trees, landscapes, and fungi (see history of the image collection).

Brother Eric kept pace with the rapidly evolving techniques of digital imaging and correctly predicted the course they would take, changing strategies as the technology changed from DOS and hypercard to the World Wide Web. He owned the first CD writer I ever saw, and his small office at St. Mary's was filled with state-of-the-art computers and equipment. A few months before his death, he was writing programs that made database queries to our online database so he could download all the Brousseau photos from our website and create an html structure for viewing them. The resulting CD fulfilled his dream of making all the photos available in a portable form.

I had the pleasure of working with Brother Eric over the past 4 years as we developed the online photo database together. Aside from being very smart and technologically adventurous, he was a sweet, charming man who always had a funny story about fishing, or about his old dad, a 1930's era hobo and con artist. It was quite a treat walking around the Berkeley campus with a tall guy who resembled the comedian Jonathan Winters in a long black cassock and white priest's collar. I always looked forward to his trips to Berkeley and I will sure miss seeing him around.

Ginger Ogle
Berkeley Digital Library Project
June 2000

  • Eulogy (originally published on the St. Mary's College website in June 2000)
  • CalPhotos (including Brousseau photos)
  • Photos by Brother Eric Vogel:
         - Seaside Historical Mural, Pacific Grove, CA

  • CalPhotos is a project of BNHM   University of California, Berkeley

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    this page last updated: Dec 16, 2017