Letters: Rooting for the Stars

John Allen’s article “Oh, My Stars!” [Summer 2011] naming a few of the many “greats” of the University of Wisconsin made me homesick. Those mentioned were not only stars in the university, but were also leaders in American society. Their contributions were of the highest order, and are enduring. I’m eighty-five years old and getting along quite well because of their work.

[Karl] Link’s Warfarin is keeping me safe from blood clotting, and [Conrad] Elvehjem’s niacin helps control my cholesterol. These are two of the foremost medications that have kept me alive and well for many years. I tout these health-control efforts to all my friends, and never fail to cite them as the university’s contributions.

Russell Shank MBA’52 Los Angeles, California

[The list in “Oh, My Stars!”] of nine Wisconsin alumni who changed the world should have been increased to ten. You forgot Harry Steenbock. Steenbock not only discovered the process for irradiating milk and increasing its Vitamin D content, which eliminated rickets, he donated his royalties to the university, which formed the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. If that wasn’t world changing, I can’t imagine what would be. On, Wisconsin!

Walker Johnson ’58 Chicago, Illinois

As I read the Summer issue of On Wisconsin, I was very happy to see the article including Arthur Altmeyer in the list of most influential alums. Although he received many honors in his life, I am sure he would have been very proud (quietly so) to have been included in this list of outstanding alumni, because of his lifelong love and association with Wisconsin and the UW.

You ended the piece on Arthur by describing the irony of the elimination of his position by the Eisenhower administration twenty-seven days before he would have been eligible for full retirement benefits. Here’s a short follow-up: after a public outcry at his undignified “retirement,” Arthur was offered a ceremonial position for a month that would have allowed him full retirement benefits. Of course, he refused to take a job where he would take the taxpayers’ money for doing nothing. If only there were more like Arthur Altmeyer.

Richard Aylward ’60 Glendale, Arizona

Published in the Fall 2011 issue

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