Meat scientist, branded beef leader VanStavern passes away
Dr. Bobby D. VanStavern, meat scientist and beef industry leader, age 90, died Feb. 21. VanStavern was a catalyst in the consumer-driven marketplace, where cattle ranchers came to realize they are in the beef business and meat companies identified that branded fresh meats satisfy restaurant, grocer and consumer needs for higher quality.
Known simply as "Dr. Bob," he was considered the scientific mastermind behind the Certified Angus Beef brand, as well as a teacher, speaker and friend. His vision and appreciation for the factors that affect beef palatability led to the brand’s science-based specifications in 1978, making it the nation’s first fresh beef brand. VanStavern’s specifications for the brand remain the industry benchmark for premium beef today, and have led to Certified Angus Beef product sales of more than 1 billion pounds per year throughout the United States and 50 countries.
Although his meat science expertise was essential to the creation of the brand and its heralded quality standards, VanStavern’s character and entrepreneurial spirit were just as important during the brand’s first decades. He taught staff and meat companies about the science of beef quality and how to translate this knowledge into fulfilling chef and grocer needs for premium beef. His favorite saying: "Never say it can’t be done." His creed, in a word: quality.
A West Virginia native, VanStavern earned his bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from West Virginia University. He went on to earn his master’s and Ph.D. in animal science from The Ohio State University. After two years in the U.S. Air Force, where he climbed to the rank of captain, VanStavern returned to Ohio State in 1954 to teach and conduct meat research. He became a meat specialist for the university’s Cooperative Extension Service and then Professor Emeritus.
VanStavern was a noted author and speaker who served the industry at nearly every level: American Society of Animal Science, American Meat Science Association, and the Ohio Extension Professors Association, to name a few. For his leadership, he was recognized with the American Meat Science Association’s Meat Extension-Industry Service Award 1973, North American Meat Processors Association’s Educator of the Year 1998, Angus Heritage Foundation 2000, Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2007, and Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Meritorious Service Award 2008.
An active member of his church, he is survived by his wife, two children and two grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Information about the service, condolences and memorials is available on the funeral home’s website.
Source: Certified Angus Beef