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In Memory

Howard H. "Stony" Stonaker

May 23, 2011

Howard H. "Stony" Stonaker, 93, died on May 13 in Fort Collins.

Howard H. He was born in Bedford, Indiana, in 1917. He received the B.S. degree in Animal Husbandry from Purdue University (1939) and M.S. (1940) and PhD degrees (1942) in Animal Breeding from Iowa State University, under the tutelage of Dr. J. Lush. He joined the faculty of Colorado State University in 1942. Between 1943 and 1946 he served in the U.S. Navy, after which he returned to his position at CSU. In 1947, he married Betty Lou Maxey, a CSU graduate, and they raised four children: Jim, Clyde, Mary Liz, and Frank. Betty Lou died in 2002.

During his time at CSU, Dr. Stonaker taught undergraduate, graduate, and short courses in animal breeding and population genetics. One of his most valued honors was being named “Top Prof” by students in 1955. He served as acting head of the Department of Animal Sciences (1958–1960) and Dean of Agriculture (1966–1968). He was a Fulbright lecturer in India (1951–1952) and in Egypt (1962–1963). Between 1968 and 1975 he served as a beef production specialist in cross-breeding research in Colombia, South America, for the Rockefeller Foundation and University of Nebraska Mission.

Stonaker was a pioneer in the scientific approach to beef cattle breeding. Between 1946 and 1966 he served as project leader at the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station at Hesperus, Colorado, for the Western Regional Research Project “Improvement of Cattle through Breeding.” He developed a sustained program of inbreeding and line crossing with Hereford cattle at Hesperus. It was one of the first facilities for performance testing not only on bulls from the research herd, but for cattle from private breeders as well. Dr. James Brinks assumed leadership for the project in 1966.

Stonaker’s research led him into studies related to size, conformation, dwarfism, and traits associated with the economy of production. Investigation with the several lines of inbred cattle and their crosses enabled him to demonstrate the adverse effects of inbreeding on a number of traits. The relatively high levels of inbreeding attained in the lines of cattle he developed permitted the estimation of heterosis effects. Dr. Stonaker developed the first selection index for beef cattle. He was among the first to recognize and experiment with the use of ultrasonic devices to estimate fat thickness and the amount of lean tissue in livestock. These years of research gave him the opportunity to recruit excellent graduate students on his research team. These student-colleagues contributed to his being able to produce some 85 scientific papers.

Following his retirement from CSU in1975, he was a livestock consultant in Central and South America, Egypt, and Pakistan. He and his family operated a farm east of Fort Collins, where they raised crops and cattle. He served as secretary-treasurer and president of the American Society of Animal Science, and received their Animal Breeding and Genetics Award and their Award in International Agriculture. He was also honored as an inductee into the Colorado Agricultural Hall of Fame and the Hereford Heritage Hall and received the CSU Agricultural Experiment Station Centennial Award, the CSU Alumni Association’s Best Teacher Award, and the CSU Livestock Leader’s Award.

In memory of Stony, the family requests that donations be made to the Dr. H.H. Stonaker Scholarship in Animal Sciences. The scholarship will be awarded to graduate students in the Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences. Contributions in Stony’s name may be mailed to the CSU Foundation, Dr. H.H. Stonaker Scholarship, P.O. Box 1870, Fort Collins, CO 80522-1870.

A memorial service for Dr. Stonaker will be held at 1 p.m. on May 28 at the Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins.


Contact: Dell Rae Moellenberg
Phone: (970) 491-6009