Robert L. Sellars
May 8, 1928 – Aug. 25, 2013
Surrounded and comforted by family that he loved deeply, Robert L. “Bob” Sellars passed away peacefully to eternal life Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, at age 85. It was a fitting end-of-life for a life well-lived, which was rich with intimate relationships, professional accomplishments, and service to his church, professional organizations and community.
Bob is survived by his wife, Libby; his four children and their spouses, Kathy (Jeff) Huntsinger, John (Deb), Bill (Julie) and Tom (Liz) Sellars; and his 10 grandchildren and their spouses.
Robert L. Sellars was born in Mooresville, Ind., on May 8, 1928, the son of Sumner A. and Dorothy L. Sellars. He had two sisters, Martha Sellars and Mary Ann (Sellars) Mills. Bob grew up in the Quaker faith on a farm during the depression and World War II.
While those were very trying times, Bob had even further challenges due to health issues that resulted in leg and hearing handicaps. In spite of his handicaps, Bob played baseball throughout high school and his first year of college. In addition to his focus on academic achievements, he was involved in music activities. He was able to work on the farm where he learned hard work, persistence, patience, sacrifice, empathy, relationship building, integrity and love of nature. During those challenging years, he focused on his education and earning enough money to fund his college and graduate school education.
Bob received an A.B. degree from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., in 1951, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University in 1955 and 1957 and an honorary doctorate of agriculture from Purdue in 1993.
In 1993, after 32 years of service, “Dr. Bob” retired as senior vice president of technology from Chr. Hansen’s Labs, a global leader in food ingredients. Although he was a scientist, he had faith in God as the divine creator. Looking to nature to understand science enabled Bob to achieve scientific advancements. Bob also was a people person who was very supportive of those who worked for him, many of whom he mentored.
Among his many accomplishments, he notably was a pioneer in probiotics. He led the introduction of probiotics into food, animal feed and diet supplements. Also, Bob was awarded two patents related to lactic starter-cultures that cut the production time of cheese in half.
Bob was a professional member of a number of scientific organizations including the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and the International Dairy Federation (IDF), where he served in a number of leadership positions. He was awarded the ADSA’s highest recognition, the Award of Honor. He received IDF’s highest award for his numerous contributions to the U.S. and international dairy industry.
Bob also was an emeritus member of the Board of Visitors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received its prestigious 1996 Honorary Recognition award. Bob was a farm boy that distinguished himself and traveled the world working in his industry.
Bob was an active member of the First Congregational Church of Waukesha. He served on a number of boards and committees and as moderator. He was a choir member for 40 years. For a number of years, Bob was active in Scouting as a co-leader. He was a member of the Golden K Kiwanis group in Waukesha. He loved his music, his Western movies and his Packers and Brewers.
While Bob’s accomplished professional career and service life brought him joy, he was first and foremost a strong Christian and loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather. In 1952, Bob married Elizabeth Van Liew Sellars, his wife of 61 years. He and Libby formed a marvelous match and together they created a close, committed and loving family of four children – Kathy, John, Bill and Tom – who all reside in the Milwaukee area with their spouses and children.
Bob was highly interested and engaged in his family’s lives. His unconditional love, support and encouragement were a constant. One example is that Bob and Libby provided critical support to their children in the creating and building of Sellars Absorbent Materials into a successful business. Bob’s legacy of his core values lives on at Sellars.
Bob was a joyful and caring person who was not afraid to express his love and emotions. He was a strong man of faith and a role model in how he lived his life. He will be dearly missed by so many. We will cherish his memory forever.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Sept. 1, at the First Congregational Church in Waukesha, 100 E. Broadway, Waukesha, WI 53186. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. with the service at 2:30 p.m., followed by a reception.
Memorials may be given to the First Congregational Church of Waukesha (address above), or the Purdue University Food Science Department, 745 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2009, Atn. Dr. Suzanne Nielsen.
Krause Funeral Home, 414-464-4640, is serving the family. For more information, visit online on www.krausefuneralhome.com.