While at Yale, he studied with the noted theologian and author, D. H. Richard Niebuhr who was professor of Christian ethics and director of graduate studies, and whose brother, Reinhold Niebuhr, was equally as famous as the author of "The Nature and Destiny of Man."

Dr. Gritsch became a U.S. citizen in 1962, the same year he was ordained into what is now the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

From 1959 to 1961, he taught at Wellesley College, until being called to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, said his wife of 17 years, Bonnie Brobst.

At the seminary, Dr. Gritsch taught church history and Reformation studies until retiring in 1994.

"Generations of seminary students were formed by his outstanding teaching and scholarship, his deep love for the Gospel and church, not least of all by his wit, which produced many memorable lines and Gritsch-isms," Ms. Brobst said.

He was co-author, with Robert Jenson, of "Lutheranism: The Theological Movement and Its Confessional Writings."

"It was likely the most influential book for a generation of Lutheran seminarians and clergy, both at Gettysburg Seminary and across the continent," Ms. Brobst said.

Dr. Gritsch was the first director in 1970 of the seminary's Institute for Luther Studies, which brought prominent international scholars to Gettysburg for a series of scholarly conferences, now known as the Martin Luther Colloquy.

He also lectured at the Catholic University of America and was an adjunct faculty member at the Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary's Seminary & University in Roland Park. He also taught at the Melanchthon Institute in Houston, and was a guest lecturer at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

Dr. Gritsch had served as interim pastor at Zion Church of the City of Baltimore which is at City Hall Plaza, where he was also a member and director of the Forum for German Culture.

He was a member of a numerous Lutheran organizations, some of which included the International Congress for Luther Research from 1964 to 22011; and had been a member of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue in North America from 1970 to 1994.

On the 50th anniversary last fall of his ordination, "Lutheranism, Legacy and Future: Essays in Honor of Eric W. Gritsch," was published. His last book, "Christendumb," will be published this spring.

Dr. Gritsch, who enjoyed keeping in touch with his former students, was an opera buff, gourmet cook and liked traveling.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. March 2 at his church, 400 E. Lexington St.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four foster daughters, Patricia Bouthner of Severn, Valerie Adams of San Francisco, Erika Bell of Wichita, Kan., and Debbie Cole of Washington state; and a brother, Gunther Gritsch of Vienna. An earlier marriage to the former Ruth Sandman ended in divorce.