In memory: Gordon Niswender

Dr. Gordon Niswender

To read a complete interview conducted with Dr. Niswender in May 2016, click here

Family and friends near and far mourn the loss of Gordon Niswender who passed peacefully on March 24th after a long and courageous battle with metastatic bladder cancer.

Gordon was born in humble beginnings April 21st, 1940, in Gillette, WY. He had a powerful work and education ethic, acquiring his Bachelor of Sciences degree in agriculture education from the University of Wyoming, his Masters of Science degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska, and his PhD in reproductive endocrinology from the University of Illinois.

Gordon began his career first as a post-doctoral fellow and then assistant professor at the University of Michigan where he was instrumental in developing innovative techniques and materials to measure hormones in the blood of humans and animals that are still being used today. His love of the West led him to move to Colorado State University in 1972 where he worked until his retirement in 2010.

He became a world leader in animal reproduction and was a founding member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, was the youngest president of that organization, and served as editor of its flagship journal, Biology of Reproduction.

At CSU he served as a teacher, researcher, mentor, and administrator, excelling in all these roles. His research led to multiple prestigious awards for research and service from three different scientific societies and he was named an outstanding mentor of trainees by two societies. He published some 250 research articles and book chapters. Perhaps most importantly, many of his more than 60 trainees have gone on to distinguished scientific careers of their own. He held multiple leadership positions at CSU including associate dean for Research, was the only non-veterinarian to serve as dean of the veterinary school, and was long-time director of the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory.

Ultimately, he was in the inaugural class of University Distinguished Professors. For his last major academic undertaking, Gordon began a program in Integrated Resource (land) Management that trained individuals to utilize agricultural resources to maximize profit for farmers and ranchers. As with virtually everything he did, the program became a huge success and impacted the profitability of many agriculturalists in Colorado and the surrounding states.

Gordon developed an excellent work-life balance, coaching youth basketball teams for his sons, “cowboying” as an avid team roper with his wife, and hosting renowned cook-out gatherings. After retirement he pursued silversmithing and jewelry making, becoming a much sought after artisan.

He is survived by Joy Dean (Jody), his beloved wife of 52 years, sons Kevin (Colleen, Aidan and Molly) of Nashville, TN, Kory (Elena) of Granbury, TX, sisters Audrey and Lois (Bill) of Gillette, WY, numerous extended relatives across the country, and his long standing scientific partner, colleague, and friend Dr. Terry Nett.

A celebration of his life is planned for Saturday April 1st (the irony is intentional), at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 1005 Stover St. Fort Collins, CO, 80524. Marks Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that a contribution be considered to the Gordon Niswender Memorial Fund, to be used to support his two passions. Funds will be dedicated to support scholarships for local high school students to pursue higher education in an agriculturally related field at CSU. Donations in his honor can be made payable to the Gordon Niswender Memorial Fund, Windsor State Bank, 1130 Main St., Windsor, CO, 80550.

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