Senior professor’s death mourned

Branden Peterson

Longtime University professor Joe Warthesen died of cardiac arrest Friday. He was 54.

Warthesen was head of the food science and nutrition department and a key figure in the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences as well as the College of Human Ecology.

Warthesen walked the University’s sidewalks and buildings for more than 30 years, beginning in the late 1960s.

After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University in 1970 and 1971, respectively, Warthesen received a doctoral degree from Oregon State University in 1974. Later that year, he returned to teach for the University and has since taught more than 2,500 students.

With research interests in food chemistry and processing, Warthesen investigated nutrient changes in foods between processing, storage and preparation.

He worked on approximately 17 U.S. Department of Agriculture projects during his career.

Warthesen became director of the Minnesota-South Dakota Dairy Foods Research Center in 1997.

Warthesen was an engaging leader who consistently sought progress in both colleges where he taught, said Shirley Baugher, College of Human Ecology dean.

Baugher and Charles Muscoplat, College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences dean, somberly addressed graduate

students and faculty Monday morning with the news.

“It’s a significant loss, but we’re going to keep moving forward,” Baugher said. “It’s what Joe would want us to do.

“I considered him to be a colleague and a friend. He was a pretty phenomenal person.”

Warthesen was named head of the food science and nutrition department in 1997, and he had since conducted research on several nutrients and food products such as cheese.

He is survived by his wife, Donna, and children, Amy, Sarah and Dan.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. today at Roseville Memorial Chapel. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Odilia Catholic Church in Shoreview.

Branden Peterson covers the St. Paul

campus and welcomes comments at [email protected]