Robert L. Sellars

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Robert L. Sellars

Of Waukesha, WI, passed away peacefully to eternal life on Sunday, August 25th at age 85. Bob was surrounded and comforted by family that he loved deeply. 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 ten grandchildren and their spouses.

Robert L. Sellars was born in Mooresville, IN 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 multi-generational family farm during the depression and World War II.

During those tough times, Bob learned the values of family and hard work, the wisdom of nature, and the rewards of patience in working with animals and people. Bob had further challenges due to health issues that resulted in leg and hearing handicaps. With his physical disabilities in childhood, it was through the love and support of his mother that he learned empathy and to never give up.

In spite of his handicaps, Bob played baseball throughout high school and his first year of college. He was also active in music and loved to sing in the choir. Bob was very focused on academics and advancing himself through education. Through hard work and sacrifice, he earned enough money to fund his college education.

In 1951, Bob received an AB degree from Earlham College, Richmond, IN. and MS and PhD 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. Bob was a scientist of faith in the Divine Creator so he looked to nature to answer scientific questions. Bob was an educated farm boy who traveled the world in service to his company and the industry he loved. Bob left quite a legacy to his employer and the industry.

Two of Bob's major accomplishments were that he led the introduction of probiotics into food, animal feed, and diet supplements and that he was awarded two patents related to lactic starter-cultures that significantly cut the production time of cheese. His many years of innovative research and development, his belief in lactic acid bacteria, his conviction and pioneering of the benefit of probiotics, and his persistence of these ideas contributed greatly to the success of his employer and the industry.

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 ADSA's highest recognition, the Award of Honor and also received IDF's highest award for his numerous contributions to the US and International dairy industry. In addition he received the first Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. 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.

While being a results oriented scientist, innovator and businessman, Bob also cared about people and relationships. One of his strengths was his ability to relate to people of varied levels of education, position, and experience and to positively motivate them. He was very supportive of those who worked for him, many of whom he mentored with care. Bob inspired people to improve professionally and personally.

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 forty 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 he could not tell a joke, he was a great audience as he loved to laugh.

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. As the kids grew up, Bob was an active parent and his love and support never wavered especially during the very trying times. When the kids were adults, Bob and Libby reinvested money from the sale of the family farm into a business that their children created. Their financial support was critical to the success of the business throughout the early years. Equally important, was their ever present emotional support as the kids persevered though the many challenges of building a business. The legacy of the family farm and Bob's core values lives on at Sellars.

Bob was a gracious, joyful and loving person who was not afraid to express his love and emotions. He was a strong man of faith who lived the Golden Rule. He was an inspirational role model in how he lived his life. He will be dearly missed by so many whose lives he touched and impacted. We are grateful for the legacy he has left us. We will hold on to his love and will cherish his memory forever.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, September 1st at the First Congregational Church in Waukesha, 100 E. Broadway, Waukesha, WI 53186. Visitation will begin at 1:00 pm with the service at 2:30 pm, followed by a reception.

Memorials may be given to the First Congregational Church of Waukesha and to the Purdue University Food Science Department, 745 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2009, Atn. Dr. Suzanne Nielsen.

Krause Funeral Homes, Inc. 9000 W. Capitol Dr. Milwaukee, WI 53222. 414-464-4640. Condolences to:

Funeral Home
Krause Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc.
9000 West Capitol Drive Milwaukee, WI 53222
(414) 464-4640
Funeral Home Details
Published in the The Indianapolis Star on Sept. 1, 2013
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