Erwin Tschanz

Obituary of Erwin A. Tschanz

Erwin Arnold Tschanz

Born July 12, 1940 and passed away on May 5, 2023.  Erwin is predeceased by his parents, Erwin Otto Tschanz and Maria Michalek Tschanz.  He is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Julie H. Mayer-Tschanz; his daughter, Catherine M. Tschanz; his brothers, Arnold T. Tschanz (Alicia W. Tschanz) and Ernest M. Tschanz (Carol B. Tschanz); nieces and nephews.  

Erwin graduated from Monroe High School (1958) and Cornell University (1962, Pi Kappa Phi). He then served in the US Army from 1963-1968. Much of that time was in South Korea at Camps Casey and Kaiser, as well as New York City and Webster, NY. He rose to the rank of Captain, and was very proud to have served. After leaving the service, he continued his education with design and engineering classes at Syracuse University. He joined Tschanz Landscape Service and worked with his father until Erwin Sr’s death in 1990. He continued to head the company until he sold the business in 2014, at which time he continued to work with the new owner through 2022. He especially loved the challenges of building patios and waterfalls, and making the customer’s vision become a reality.

Erv received his first muzzleloading firearm at the age of 13 and later competed on the rifle team at Cornell and at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association’s shoots in Friendship, IN. As a teen, he taught Native American crafts at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and in college at the Rotary Sunshine Camp (Rochester, NY), the YMCA Camp Lawrence Cory (Pan Yan, NY), and the Salvation Army Camp Puh'tok (Baltimore, MD). His interest in Native American culture, American history, muzzleloading and the mountain man period sparked an interest in traditional crafts in horn, leather, and wood. In 1975, Erv helped his brother Ernie organize a recreated unit of the Brigade of the American Revolution (Thompson’s Rifle Battalion, Hendrick’s Company). He later served as Inspector of Riflemen, and taught firemaking and cooking classes at the BAR School of the Soldier and Historic Eastfield Village. He met his wife, Julie, at a Country Dancers of Rochester dance in 1977 and served as the club’s treasurer for several years. In 1979, he and Julie founded Gen-Nis-He-Yo Trading Company to provide handcrafted goods to reenactors and historical sites. He was a founding member of the Honorable Company of Horners (founded 1996) - a group devoted to the craft of working with horn and bone - and served as a mentor to many members. In 2007, the HCH awarded him the title of Master Horner. He was also a member of both the Rochester Woodworking Society and the Finger Lakes Woodturners, where he taught 18th century turning techniques. He was listed in the Early American Life Directory of Traditional American Crafts from 2013-2022.

Erv’s love of canoeing and camping led to teaching winter backpacking and camp cooking workshops for the Adirondack Mountain Club (Genesee Valley Chapter) for over 30 years. He continued to develop the land his parents bought in the Finger Lakes region as a family camp, with first an Arapaho tipi, then a small shelter, a pond, and finally a log cabin. He spent many hours there hiking the trails and gullies, listening to the frogs, and watching the hummingbirds feeding at the monarda, the phoebes nesting in the rafters, and the fish jumping in the pond.

Erv was always willing to share his experiences and research, and continued to do so until his death. He was a born teacher. Even in his final weeks, he continued to teach turning and the style of pruning taught to him by his father, as well as to plan several gardens.

His family sends special thanks to the volunteers at Sunset House (Irondequoit, NY) and the University of Rochester Medical Center Oncology and Hospice teams.

Interment will be private. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date (to be announced).

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Sunset House (Irondequoit NY), Adirondack Mountain Club, or Old Fort Niagara Association (Youngstown NY).

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