Dallas E. Boggs, PhD


In 1950, I applied for a scholarship to the West Virginia University College of Agriculture and was awarded $200 from the Sears-Roebuck Foundation. That was enough to pay for my tuition and fees and my books, but I would have to work for my board and room plus other expenses. They advised me that a freshman was not allowed a job on campus during the regular term. I could enroll during the summer term, and if I earned enough points, I could continue to work part time. I enrolled in Chemistry for two six-week terms during the summer of 1950.

Aunt Icie and Cova Strickland recommended me to Miss Price for a job in the University Cafeteria. I worked about 20 hours per week that summer while taking two six-week terms in Chemistry. I got all As, which gave me enough grade points to be eligible to work during the rest of my tenure. The old student union, the “Mountainlair,” was housed in a war surplus Quonset hut. The enrollment had grown so rapidly after World War II that temporary structures were put up all over the campus. Yet, the total enrollment on the University campus in 1950 was only about 5,000. That was still a huge place for me, however. I worked there after getting laid off at the cafeteria. Those “damned democrats caused budget problems at the cafeteria. I thought Miss Price was just bias, but it turned out that the Governor and his purchasing agent had set up a dummy company to do business with the state. All purchases were made through their business and the skimmed 15% from the top. Later, they both got sent up for their scheme.

I completed my freshman year, which included quantitative and qualitative chemistry. I enrolled in a summer work program sponsored by the American Guernsey Cattle association during the summer of 1951. They sent me to the Dunwalk Farm in Far Hills New Jersey. I earned $60 per week plus room and board. Mostly I helped milk (twice per day) about forty Guernsey cattle. I was required to work about 10 hours per day with one day off every two weeks. I learned to drive by taking the jeep out onto the Dunwalk Farm roads. Onetime I got lost and drove all the way up to Mr. Dillon’s mansion. I had to turn around in the driveway in the back of the mansion. I jockeyed the vehicle because the jeep has large joints up front (for the four-wheel drive) and it won’t turn on a dime.

The first time I took my driver’s test, I failed because I couldn’t back into a parallel space between two drums. I got a new learners permit and then went out to another testing station in the country where there were no sidewalks this time I passed because they didn’t have me back up the car (that old Studebaker) for parallel parking. So I passed.

When I returned for the next fall term, I had an invitation from Dr. Walter Lewis to come and work for him in the Biochemistry Laboratory at the Agriculture Experiment Station in Olgaby Hall. Since I had completed courses in analytical chemistry, he said that I would be qualified to do analytical work and to do chores such as keeping the glassware clean. The following summer, I took two terms of organic chemistry and continued to work in the research lab in Olgaby (sp) Hall. For my Junior year, I received a Regional Scholarship from the Sears Roebuck Foundation. Dr. A. H. VanLandingham, my faculty advisor, accompanied me to Chicago to receive the award.

All freshmen at WVU were required to take ROTC. The following year, I elected to continue, and I selected the Air Force division (AFROTC). My specialty would be “logistics and supply”. The summer after my junior year, I had four weeks of training at Lawson Air Force Base at Fort Benning, GA. I completed four years and received a “Completion of Training Certificate”. The Korean War was over, and they no longer needed Second Lieutenants. I turned down offers of Pfc. in the Regular Air Force or a commission in the Air National Guard. (The National Guard did not qualify one for the GI Bill.)

During the Korean War, there was a lot of labor strife, and at one point, Truman nationalized the railroads and some other “essential industries”. That was not popular with either side. Some of the men jested that they were “working for Truman now.” I was proctor in the dorm during my junior and senior years. That paid for my room and board.

After Air Force camp, I went to Saint Louis for two weeks at the Purina Farms with William H. Danforth, followed by two weeks at Camp Miniwauka. (On a Danforth Foundation Scholarship)


During my senior year, I was accepted for a graduated research assistantship at the Cornell University School of Nutrition. My major professor was Dr. L. A. Maynard, who authored our text book on Animal nutrition. I was impressed with his clear style of writing, and was determined to accept his offer. (Dr. Lewis wanted me to apply at Perdue, his Alma Mater, to study under Dr. Whistler.)

I rented a room in Ithaca and took Biochemistry 101 for the summer of 1954. I shared an apartment in College Town with Dr. Poonsadki Sambhavaphol for the following year, and moved to another apartment with Hugh Daubeny for my second year in Ithaca. I met Hugh while serving as a guinea pig on a nutrition study to provide guidelines for establishing the minimum daily requirement for vitamin C. We received 8 mg per day. The initial plan was for a three month study, but it was extended to six months. They followed the levels of vitamin C in our blood serum.

When I was in the school in nutrition, Dr. Maynard threw a party for the whole department. I skipped the party because they served cocktails the party and I didn’t want to be around people who were drinking. (I was a teetotaler.) The following summer Doctor Williams threw an outdoor picnic party for us, and I didn’t attend that either—for the same reason. That got me into trouble. Dr. Maynard called me in his office and said I had two strikes against me. One, I didn’t go to his party; and two, I missed the picnic. He said, “Nobody could afford to be so independent, unless he is a genius—and, you are not a genius.”

The next time there was a party was when one of my fellow students was celebrating the passing of his qualifying exam. It was on a winter evening at his house out in the country. It’s snowed that evening and most people could not make it to the party. I was lucky because I and three or four others rode with Jack and he was driving a Volkswagen. We got out and helped push the car up the hill to our friend’s house. Since our host had prepared for about 30 people, and only a few of us got there, you can imagine that we had a pretty wild party. That was the first time I ever drank beer, and must have had two or three. I know I felt good, but must have made a little scene because somebody gave me the hot foot. I attended one or two more parties at Cornell before I left there, I don’t remember ever being wild again at a party.

My research (for my thesis) was about imbalances of minerals (calcium, phosphorus and magnesium) in the diet of guinea pigs, and the study was published in the Journal of Nutrition. After completing my MNS degree, Dr. Maynard recommended me for another graduate assistantship to study under Dr. H.H.Williams for a Ph.D. degree. I chose to major in Biochemistry with minors in Organic Chemistry and Physiology. Dr. Blomquist (Chemistry) and Dr. J.A. Dye (Physiology) were my minor professors.

Sometime in the spring of 1956, Veronica Robinson (who was another subject in the nutrition study) introduced me to Barbara Lee, a graduate of Washington State University who had recently enrolled at Cornell in the Foods and Nutrition Department of the School of Home Economics. Sometime later my room-mate, Hugh asked me to fill in for him on a date with her. That started a courtship that resulted in our getting married on August 31, 1956. Hugh volunteered to move out and let Barbara move into the tiny apartment with me.

Nine months and two weeks later, our first daughter was born. I had agreed with Barbara that we would name her Ann Louise, but I was expecting a boy and hadn’t given much thought to naming a girl. (My chosen name for a boy was “Robert Wayne”.) But I was so mesmerized with our new baby that I wanted a more glamorous name for her. I selected Susan Ann, and Barbara went along; but she declared, “From now on, I will name the girls; and you can name the boys.”

We enrolled Susan in the nursery school, and Barbara continued graduate work for a while before she dropped out to work in Dr. Leonard’s laboratory, Department of Endocrinology at Cornell. She worked there until late in her pregnancy with Jean, during my fourth year at Cornell.