Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My dear friend Douglas Post

Last week I lost a very good friend. My friend Doug Post.

Doug was my genetics professor at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.  There are 3 things I remember from that class. One, calico cats are always female. Two if you wanted to make sure you passed any class of Doug's he recommended leaving a bottle of Johnnie Walker blue on his desk along with your final exam. And the third is Doug was never politically correct and had a great sense of humor.

My very first day of class with Doug was definitely a memorable one. Shortly after Doug started class a man opened the door to the lecture hall and summoned Doug over, they talked for a minute and then class resumed. Doug never said anything about the man or what they talked about, he just kept lecturing. After a few minutes a man came in and looked around, Doug was talking about genes and I remember he commented on this guys lack of hair. The guy left, a few minutes later several men came in all wearing blue FBI jackets, they spread out and walked up and down the isles. I happened to be sitting with two friends, we were a little more than half way up the lecture hall, sitting in the middle of the row. There were probably 4 or 5, maybe more,  FBI men walking the class. This was one of those large lecture halls that probably sat a hundred or so. Doug kept lecturing through the whole thing, making random comments about the FBI men in the class as it related to what he would be teaching in class. Then all of the sudden several of the men came into the row right in front of where we were sitting, jumped over the girl who was in front of us and grabbed a guy. Without saying anything the FBI agents picked the man up, and out of the class he went. Just as they were leaving Doug says, "Anyone else thinking of dropping the class."

Doug was certainly one of a kind. I was lucky to have traveled several summers with Doug out west on his Bio Wyo trips, and one winter trip to the deserts of the southwest. Doug passed away on Sunday, October 30th of acute pancrentitas. I was fortunate to be able to spend time with him at his home in the woods and have frequent phone conversations. I will miss his caring voice, his reassuring and encouraging words, and his love for life and learning.  Below is a copy of his obituary.

Douglas Delray Post, formerly of Amherst Junction, WI, died Sunday, October 30, 2011, at Marshfield Hospital, of complications arising from acute pancreatitis. Born December 11, 1938, in Canton, Illinois, Delray, as he was known to family and friends, graduated from Rushville High School in Rushville, Illinois, in 1956. To earn money for college, Delray spent his summers working as a ranch hand at the Charlie Burton Ranch in the heart of the Sandhills region of Nebraska, near Bingham, from 1955 to 1960, a period and place that shaped his heartfelt love of the American West and no-nonsense perspective on life. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, in 1960, and earned a Master of Science degree and a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Biology in 1970 from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. He conducted pioneering field-based research on sympatric speciation that led to the identification of a new frog species, the Plains Leopard Frog, the Latin name of which he assigned in honor of one of his biology professors. Doug served as a professor in the Biology Department at UW-Stevens Point from 1969 until his retirement in 2006, when he was awarded emeritus status. He was an inspiration to many of the hundreds of students that enrolled in his classes, especially his field biology classes based in Wyoming and the Desert Southwest. Teaching was a lifelong passion to which Doug devoted himself tirelessly. He enjoyed tending to his sheep, vegetable gardens, flowering plants, honey bees, and hummingbirds; loved exploring the woods around his house; and took great pride in hearing about the many exploits of his children and grandchildren. His family and friends will always remember him for his incisive wisdom, hunger for knowledge, passion for reading, adamant non-conformist approach to life, sense of humor, love of nature, and tender compassion for those he loved. His stories were always interesting, often humorous, and occasionally believable.

He was preceded in death by his father, Marshall Stephen Post. He is survived by his mother, Velma Post, Rushville, IL; brother, Delbert Post (Liz), Tampa, FL; sister, Marsha Post, Philmont, NY; ex-wife, Janice Ronchetto, Stevens Point, WI; fiancée, Judy Ratkowski, Plover, WI; daughter, Debora Post (Thom Walsh), Rosholt, WI; son, Eric Post (Pernille Boving), State College, PA; six grandchildren, Geoffrey Yenter (Afton Otto), Tyler Yenter, Lindsay Yenter, Mason Post, Phoebe Post, and Boochie Post; and one great-grandson, Calvin Yenter. A visitation will begin at Shuda Funeral Home, Stevens Point, WI, at 10 am, Friday, November 4, followed by a memorial service beginning at noon of the same day. Condolences may be left online at


Anne said...

So sorry for your loss. He sounds like an amazing man.

Debora Post said...

He was an amazing man....he was my Dad, my hero and my best friend. He spoke of you often Jennifer with much admiration and love in his voice. He is missed beyond belief and our pain is unimaginable. I love to hear stories of how he touched other people's lives and how much he was both admired and respected. He lives on because of people like you.....don't forget to save the turtles that you find trying to cross the road....that one will live on in my children as well as in their children and so on.....
Thank you for being his friend and loving him so much.

Debora Ann Post

The Peterson Family said...

Debora- I am so sorry for your loss. I can not even imagine the pain you must feel. Doug planted a seed in every student he had, that seed grows in all of us. I loved your dad so much, he was an amazing person! Thank you for taking the time to write it mean so much!

khutchu said...

Hi, Thanks for your words about our outstanding Teacher. I just found out about his passing and your blog brought some happy feelings to mind. As a student, when I would register for a new semester I would assembled all my other classes around his. What a fun dude. I loved how his dry, rash humor stole everyone's attention. He could have control of the biggest lecture hall on campus in the matter of a few socially sensitive jokes. I loved everyday in his class. Well, most days-I'll be fair. thanks again,

The Peterson Family said...

Kent, I am so glad that I could bring you a smile. Doug was a wonderful teacher! I do know what you mean, I dreaded the beginning of every genetics class in fear I would be called out to answer one of his attendance questions. To think that he is still bringing people together and making us smile just shows how deep he touched so many. Thanks for the note.