In memory: Rodney Kenneth Skogerboe

Rodney Kenneth Skogerboe died at home on July 15. Rod was born on June 25, 1931, in Blue Earth, Minn. He was the eldest child of Obed and Norma Skogerboe who were farmers and ranchers. He spent his childhood in Minnesota, Wyoming, and Iowa among a large extended family of prolific story tellers and he inherited this family trait.

His graduation from Forest City High School in Iowa in 1949 was followed by a stint in the US Army during the Korean Conflict. The Army recognized his teaching skills and kept him stateside instructing recruits how to operate tanks at Fort Knox, Ken. After the service, he used the GI Bill to attend college at Mankato State University, where he graduated with a BS in chemistry in 1958 and accepted a job at the Ames Laboratory working with the Atomic Energy Commission.

He married his first wife that same year and together they had four children.
In 1960, Rod entered graduate school and earned his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Montana State University in 1963. He taught at South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, SD, and was then hired at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he served as research manager of the trace analysis laboratory.

As a westerner, he longed to return back west and in 1969 he accepted a faculty position at Colorado State University in Fort Collins where he spent the rest of his life. Rod served as the chairman of the Department of Chemistry for 10 years and directed the research of 54 Ph.D. students and eight master’s students during his academic career. His students were at the core of his being. His high expectations and firm treatment was always accompanied with humor and true caring for them as individuals. He kept track of both their professional and personal advancements.

A significant amount of Rod’s work focused on trace analysis of heavy metals in environmental and biological samples; which played a significant role in the EPA’s air quality standards and the removal of harmful lead additives in gasoline. He went on to publish more than 120 scientific papers, book chapters and technical reports summarizing the results of his research.
He also served on the Food and Drug Administration Science Advisory Board, the State Air Pollution Governance Board, and review boards for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. In 1984, before retiring, he received the Oliver Pennock award for distinguished service in 1984; an apropos conclusion to a long and productive research and teaching career at Colorado State University before embarking on the next stage of his journey; that of cattle ranching.

In 1980, he met the love of his life, Ruth Bell, and they married in 1982. Together with his New York City bride, they built a cattle ranch from scratch up the Redstone Canyon behind Horsetooth Mountain. They specialized in raising Saler Bulls, a breed worthy of the tireless effort they expended to
promote.

In 1996, while herding cattle, he was bucked off his horse and experienced a spinal cord injury. After the accident, which resulted in quadriplegia, Rod and Ruth continued to live on their ranch for another four years before moving to their current home in Fort Collins; where Ruth’s background in occupational therapy was tantamount to continued good health.

Rod is survived by his wife Ruth; brother Chuck Skogerboe; sister Zelda Peterson; children Bill and Lecky Knippenberg, Christine Knippenberg, John and Jane Knippenberg, Scott and Dianne Skogerboe, Kristen Skogerboe and Rob Synovec, Karin and Alan Bright, Lauren Lindsey; 15 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family wishes to have donations made to Colorado State University Foundation for the Rodney K. Skogerboe Scholarship in Chemistry Fund 74425 (P.O. Box 1870, Fort Collins, CO 80522-1870). The endowed scholarship was created in Skogerboe’s name by Glenn Boutilier and his wife, Donna, to honor Skogerboe’s career at CSU and the impact he had on his students. Gifts to this scholarship may also be made online.

Obituaries compiled by CSU Public Relations Staff