Cryonics Founder Dies at 92, Frozen Immediately

Aug 1, 2011 | 0 comments

Robert C.W. Ettinger, who conceived and created cryonics (preserving a body in a deep freeze for eventual reanimation), died on July 23 at his home in Clinton Township, Mich. He was 92. We have Mr. Ettinger to thank for the eventual creation of the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival.

Ettinger was a physics instructor and science fiction writer whose idea of freezing the dead for future reanimation repelled most scientists. Ettinger’s work inspired Woody Allen and Mike Myers to do some of their best work, specifically the films “Sleeper” and the Austin Powers series of films.

And Ettinger persuaded at least 105 people to pay $28,000 each to have their bodies preserved in liquid nitrogen at his Cryonics Institute in suburban Detroit. His mother, Rhea, who died in 1977 at 78, was his first patient.

After he died of respiratory failure (at 92, not old age?) Mr. Ettinger’s body was placed in a cryonic capsule and frozen at minus 371 degrees Fahrenheit, after several days of cooling preparation. Mr. Ettinger was the institute’s 106th client, according to his son, David Ettinger.

Mr. Ettinger’s ideas, which he popularized in a 1963 book, “The Prospect of Immortality,” spawned what some refer to as the cryonics movement, though by most accounts it is a small endeavor: a scattering of enterprises around the country with dues-paying customers totaling a few thousand, a few hundred of whom have actually been deep-frozen.

The baseball legend Ted Williams, whose freezing at an unrelated Arizona facility in 2002 set off a well-publicized family feud, is probably the most notable cryonics adherent. But Mr. Ettinger’s earnest vision of future scientists cracking the secret of immortality and bringing back to life the deep-frozen dead — curing them and making them young again — struck that sweet spot between kooky and quasi-scientific that television talk-show hosts loved in the early 1960s.

Read the full The New York Times news obituary.

Because of Mr. Ettinger’s work, Frozen Dead Guy Days came to be.

Frozen Dead Guy Days is based on the true story of Grandpa Bredo Morstoel from Norway. After his death due to a heart condition in 1989, his grandson Trygve Bauge packed him in dry ice and shipped him to a U.S. cryonics facility in California for eventual reanimation. In 1993, Trygve, hoping to start his own cryonic facility, moved Grandpa to Nederland, Colorado.

The story then takes a number of interesting turns. Long story short – Grandpa Bredo has been kept in a Tuff Shed-sheltered, dry ice-fueled deep freeze in Nederland ever since. The Chamber of Commerce is looking for an events company to take over running the increasingly popular festival that takes place in early March.

A Good Goodbye