Eric F. Menke, 78, retired architect and planning consultant and a collector of books and art, died of cancer Aug. 23 at Georgetown University Hospital. He lived in Washington.
He first came to Washington in the late 1920s as an architect with a Philadelphia firm that was working on the construction of the Friends Meeting House on Florida Avenue NW. He was a charter member of the meeting and remained active in its affairs until his death.
Mr. Menke remained in Washington, serving on the D.C. Zoning Commission and then in the late 1930s in the office of the Municipal Center on Indiana Avenue NW and was responsible for the mosiac in the entrance hall.
He joined the office of the chief of Army engineers in the 1940s, where he continued to serve until retiring about 10 years ago. At one time he was an alternate member of the National Capital Planning Commission as a representative of the Army engineers.
He also had served on the Committee of One Hundred and the Joint Committee on Landmarks.
Mr. Menke was born in Mannheim, Germany. He came to this country as a young man, earned a degree in architecture from Yale University and studied city planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
An interest in the life of the German poet, Goethe, began in Mr. Menke's boyhood when he often visited Goethe's home in Frankfurt. He was active in the German Goethe Society and was a founding member of the American Goethe Society unit here.
Recently he presented a collection of more than 3,000 books and 2,000 maps, paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, manuscripts and artifacts associated with Goethe to the Georgetown University Library.
George M. Barringer, special collections librarian at the university library, said:
"Its (the collection's) formation was the exercise of a cultivated, humane, civilized taste, a curiosity for the past, and a concern for the future. The eye of the artist, rather than the list of a bibliographer was always the decisive tool. The Menke collection would not be, as booksellers are fond of asserting for their wares, "hard to duplicate" -- it would be impossible, and Georgetown is, by so great an extent, Eric F. Menke's debtor."
Mr. Menke also had helped bring about the revival of the liturgical typography of the St. Alban's Press at St. Alban's School here.
He was a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects.
He is survived by a sister, Herta Menke, of Frankfurt.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.