The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dr. Edward K. Morlok

Today I learned some sad news, of the passing on April 18 of Ed Morlok. He was 68, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Systems Engineering (the photo below is linked from his Penn website), and a significant figure in American OO.

I first met Ed, by mail, in the summer of 1982. At that time I was an undergraduate in college and was working developing a checklist of American OO. I sent him an early copy (I got his address from Temple Nieter) and he replied with a number of notes. He was fairly new to OO in that time frame and in that first letter mentioned the idea of writing an article together on the history of American OO, which we started not long after. I did the typing on my dad’s Apple IIe. I found tonight the last of the draft versions before publication, which was dated January 5, 1986.

It was a period of a lot of work in OO for Ed, as he was the founding editor of The OO Road (1985-90) and the two part TCA Quarterly series we wrote was published in their October, 1986 and April, 1987 issues, this being a scan of the beginning of part II. He also published at least one other article in the Quarterly, which I wrote about in this post, and I stayed at his home once in the late 1980s as well. I was glad to have known him.

His obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer notes clearly his interest in American OO. A highlight:
At Penn he taught engineering economics, logistics, and manufacturing, and supervised numerous doctoral students. He was the author of four books, including a standard textbook, and for 13 years served as editor of McGraw-Hill Cos.' series on transportation.

"He was above all things a gentleman, even when so sick," his wife, Patricia Campbell Morlok, said yesterday. "He'd always stand up to greet visitors."

Diagnosed with cancer in 2000, he "fought it valiantly," she said, "and was always optimistic."

He took special interest in the history of the Leiper Railroad, a horse-drawn rail line begun in 1809 to haul quarry stone through Swarthmore; it was among the world's earliest railroads.

But his greatest hobby was model trains of the OO gauge. "He never thought you could have enough," his wife said. "The largest room on the third floor of our house was filled floor to ceiling with locomotives and train cars."
Not that long ago I last heard from Ed, by E-mail. He had good days and bad but maintained an optimistic attitude. His passing is sad news for OO, and certainly heartfelt condolences go to his family.

UPDATE: See this article for more, including a photo I took of Ed at his workbench when I visited him.

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