Dr. John Olson Almquist, 94, passed away on Sunday, September 6, 2015 in his home at the Village at Penn State. He was born on Feb. 10, 1921 in Holdrege, Nebraska to C. Walter Edwin Almquist and Amy Clare (Biesenthal) Almquist. As a baby, he moved with his parents to a farm in Alden, New York and spent his childhood there. He was the oldest of four children. As a youth, he and his siblings participated in 4-H, and he became a cattle judge for the summer county fairs, thus preparing him for his future career. Almquist graduated from Alden High School in 1937. He married Norma Hoagland on Oct. 17, 1942 and was married for 71 years until Norma’s death in 2014. They had three children: Joan, Judy and John.
Dr. Almquist graduated with a B.S. degree from Cornell in 1942 and a Master’s degree from Purdue in 1944. Then came to The Pennsylvania State University for his Doctorate degree, awarded in 1947, and subsequently joined the staff to eventually become professor emeritus of dairy physiology. He served on Penn State’s dairy and animal science faculty from 1944 until 1982 and established Penn State’s dairy breeding research program. His research focused on artificial insemination (AI) improvements in dairy breeding at the lab, later rededicated as the John O. Almquist Dairy Breeding Research Center. He received the Wolf Award in 1981, presented in Israel, for his work in AI for livestock improvement. This award is the highest worldwide honor award given in the field of agriculture. A historical plaque, describing his research, is located in front of the Borland Building, near the former PSU creamery building, where he taught for many years. CherryQuist, a PSU Creamery Ice cream flavor is named in his honor.
Some of his many other awards include: the National Association of Animal Breeders Research Award, the 1998 Penn State Distinguished Alumnus Award, the 1998 National Award for Agricultural Excellence from the National Agri-Marketing Association and the 1999 Pioneer Award from the National Dairy Shrine.
In 1954, at one of his many honorary lectures on Bull Power, Dr. Almquist predicted that the AI of cattle would lead to outstanding bulls having many thousands of offspring in their lifetime. In January of 2015, Almquist read in the Wall Street Journal, an article about a record-making Wisconsin bull siring over 500,000 calves in eighty different countries as a result of AI processes. This verified Almquist’s prediction from over 60 years ago.
Dr. Almquist was a member of Alpha Zeta fraternity, Kiwanis Club, and an elder in the First Presbyterian Church in State College. He was preceded in death by his wife, Norma, his daughter, Joan Virginia Almquist Bull, and both brothers, Calvin and Carl.
He is survived by his daughter, Judith Almquist Anthony (Harry) of Kingsville, TX, his son, John W.E. Almquist (Bonnie) of Sarver, PA., his sister, Amy Ruth Thompson of Fort Myers, FL., seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Norma Hoagland Almquist Scholarship Fund or the Joan Virginia Almquist Scholarship Fund with the Centre County Community Foundation, P O Box 824, State College, PA. 16804. Arrangements are under the direction of Wetzler Funeral Service, Inc. in Bellefonte. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.wetzlerfuneralhome.com