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Elaine McIntosh

Elaine McIntosh
Elaine V. McIntosh Professor, Human Biology 6/1/90

Dr. Elaine V. McIntosh, 93, Green Bay, passed on to eternal rest following a short hospitalization at Bellin Memorial Hospital on March 17, 2017. She was born January 30, 1924 in Webster, SD, to the late James and Cora (Bakke) Nelson. On August 28, 1955 she married Thomas H. McIntosh in Ames, IA; celebrating 52 years of marriage prior to Tom's passing on April 2, 2008. Her brother, Dr. V. Ronald Nelson, passed away in 2012.

Survivors include her three sons, James, Battle Creek, MI; Ronald and Charles, Green Bay, WI; a niece Cynthia (Robert) Ellsworth, Madison, SD; a sister-in-law, Dr. Joyce Nelson, Sioux Falls, SD; a brother-in-law, Philip McIntosh, Lansing, IL.

Elaine grew up on the Great Plains of South Dakota during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl Era. Her youth preceded rural electrification, indoor plumbing, and widespread telephone and radio availability. Such amenities did not reach her locale until her late teenage years. Elaine had many stories of childhood deprivation as well as fond remembrances of life on the family farm. These included steam powered threshing machine, early combines as well as traveling in hand cranked automobiles on muddy, rugged roads.

She helped to farm wheat and tended sheep with her dog and pony amidst the "vast plains, blue skies and endless mornings." Her mind and talents stretched far beyond her one room school house and her rural isolation. Elaine was a voracious reader of anything she could get her hands on. The owner of the local general store and a train station tender from a nearby town would collect old and discarded magazines, newspapers and books for her to read. She dreamed of being a writer and had two poems published by the age of 12. She enjoyed playing the saxophone and clarinet.

She attended a boarding school miles from her home in order to complete her high school education. She graduated, valedictorian, from Waubay High School in 1941.

Elaine was very proud of her Norwegian heritage. Her grandparents on both sides immigrated to Wisconsin from Norway. She grew up steeped in Norwegian culture and traditions and was fluent in Norwegian. Elaine's mother, Cora, began attending Normal School in Viroqua, WI at age 16, obtaining her teaching certificate at age 18. She then began teaching in the pioneer one room school houses of South Dakota. Her mother encouraged Elaine to pursue higher education although the family had modest means for support. Through determination, scholarship, and part time jobs, Elaine succeeded in funding her college education by herself. She thought of majoring in English, but her mother convinced her to pursue her love of science. Elaine was known for her kind and gentle demeanor. As she pursued her career goals she also developed self-confidence, self-discipline and perseverance. A scientific career in her day was an unusual and infrequent choice for a woman; one with many obstacles.

Elaine earned a A.B. degree (Chemistry and Math) in 1945 from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD; an M.A. degree in 1949 (Biochemistry) from the University of SD, Vermillion, SD; and a Ph.D. (Physiologic Bacteriology) in 1954 from Iowa State University, Ames, IA.

She was the first woman to earn a doctorate degree from the Bacteriology Department at Iowa State University, and was honored by the university with a plaque in its' Plaza of Heroines in 1995. She received her certification as a Registered Dietician (R.D.) from the State of Wisconsin in 1977 after interning at St. Mary's Hospital, Green Bay, WI.

She was a biochemist, microbiologist, and a nutritionist. Over her career, she had teaching and/or research appointments at Sioux Falls College, the University of South Dakota, the University of Illinois, Iowa State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Her major research contributions were in the areas of nucleic acid and vitamin biosynthesis as well as muscle biochemistry. She received the Eli Lilly Award for her work involving pantothenic acid metabolism.

Elaine was part of the original cadre of founding faculty hired in 1968, the first year the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay became a four year degree granting institution. She developed the university's program in nutritional sciences, achieving accreditation for the dietetics program from the American Dietetic Association in 1975, and maintained the program in compliance throughout her tenure.

In addition to teaching, active research, publishing, and presenting in her area of expertise, she mentored several graduate students. Elaine served administratively at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay as chairperson of the Department of Human Biology for several years, as an Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, and as Special Assistant to the Chancellor. She achieved full professor status in 1985, and retired from full time appointment in 1990, receiving professor emerita status. She continued to teach part time until 1996, and thereafter led several LIR (Learning in Retirement) Seminars. She remained active in professional and community organizations during retirement, and was the author of two books: "American Food Habits in Historical Perspective", published in 1995; and "The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Food, Nutrition and Health Aspects", published in 2003.

Over the course of her career, Elaine was the author of numerous academic journal articles, a reviewer of and contributor to many textbooks, as well as creative writing pieces and poetry published in magazines. She was included in the International Who's Who in Poetry. 

Among her past societal memberships, Elaine was past president, past vice president and board member for the Wisconsin Nutrition Council; a board member for the Center for Western Studies at Augustana College; founding board member of the Friends of Cofrin Library; and board member for the Brown County Historical Society (co-recipient of the 2003 Historical Preservation Achievement Award with husband Tom). She was active in the Green Bay Botanical Garden, and First United Methodist Church.

The family will receive friends at the Pfotenhauer Funeral Home & Cremation Service, East-Town location, 2379 East Mason St., on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and after 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. The funeral service will be at 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home with the Reverend David Kalas officiating. A luncheon will follow at the Rite Place.

In lieu of flowers and other expressions of sympathy, a memorial fund has been established at the funeral home in Elaine's name for the Natural Science and Math Scholarship Fund at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Donations can be mailed C/O Pfotenhauer Funeral Home, P.O. Box 13355, Green Bay, WI 54307-3355. Online condolences welcome at the Pfotenhauer Funeral Home website.
(Reprinted with permission from Laurie Bolle, Regional Director of Sales – Gannett Regional Sales Center, USA today Network.)   Published in Green Bay Press-Gazette from March 19 to March 26, 2017