Gerhard Laule’s parents escaped from Soviet rule in East Germany in 1948 by pushing their 2-month-old son, Laule’s older brother, in a baby carriage into West Berlin, acting as though they were going to work.


Gerhard Laule’s parents escaped from Soviet rule in East Germany in 1948 by pushing their 2-month-old son, Laule’s older brother, in a baby carriage into West Berlin, acting as though they were going to work.
His parents were on the east side of Berlin when the Berlin blockade started, Laule said. His father worked for a farmer who sold products on both east and west sides.
“They didn’t want to live in the Soviet sector of East Germany. One day my mother and father went over just like they were going to work — and never went back,” Laule said. “They weren’t able to take anything with them, just my brother in a baby carriage.”
They lived for a time in Wilhelmshaven, West Germany, a city on the North Sea. That was where Gerhard Laule was born in 1949.
His mother’s home was in what is now Poland. “She left her home after the war. She couldn’t go back to her home,” Laule said.
So the family came to America to start a new life.
Through a U.S. program for displaced people, a Clarksville, Mo., farmer sponsored their passage to the United States. His parents agreed to work on the farm.
“That’s how we got to the United States,” Laule said. He was 2 when they arrived here.
Most of Laule’s youth was spent in Missouri and around Chicago. They moved from O’Fallon, Mo., to Fort Smith, Ark., in 1964, and later to Searcy, Ark., where Laule graduated from high school.
He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas and for several years, worked for the Arkansas Department of Health analyzing inorganic contaminants in water.
Laule later took a position traveling around the state certifying breathalyzers.
“I traveled around all the jails and police stations. When I first met Danielle, we would drive around and I would tell her, ‘I’ve been in that jail,’” he quipped.
Laule completed a master’s degree in instrumental sciences at the University of Arkansas. After his master’s, he worked for a year toward a doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Oregon.
He returned to Arkansas and began a job search that resulted in his accepting a position on the chemistry faculty at Seminole State College in 1988.
Laule has lived in the Shawnee area since then.
While teaching at Seminole State, Laule finished all the course work required for a doctorate in organic chemistry. He has fulfilled all the requirements except for the doctoral dissertation, earning the designation A.D.D.
His love of hiking started when he was studying at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
“On the west side of Eugene you have the coast range and on the east side, the Cascades. You’re about one-and-a-half hours from the ocean and about an hour from the top of the Cascades,” Laule said.
“I did a lot of hiking there.”