Duane E. Ullrey Ph.D.

May 27, 1928January 25, 2014

Duane E. Ullrey, Ph.D Okemos Dr. Duane E. Ullrey age 85 died early Saturday morning, January 25, 2014. He was born May 27, 1928 in Niles, Michigan to Ebon and Jennie (Knott) Ullrey and was a 1946 graduate of Niles High School. Duane graduated from Michigan State University in 1950 with a degree in animal husbandry followed by a master’s degree in animal pathology in 1951. He continued his graduate work in animal nutrition at the University of Illinois earning his Ph.D in 1954. Upon graduation, he taught in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Oklahoma A&M University until 1954 when he was hired as an assistant professor of animal nutrition at Michigan State University; becoming a full professor in 1968. He had a joint appointment in the Departments of Animal Science and Fisheries and Wildlife. He taught and conducted research in the nutrition of swine and white tailed deer, ultimately developing a program in Comparative Animal Nutrition. He became a national and international expert on the trace mineral selenium and was sought after to serve on many academic and government committees all over the world. As much as Duane loved research, teaching was also a priority for him. He supervised 34 graduate students and served on the graduate committees of over 140 students during his tenure at MSU. In 1978 Duane took a nine-month sabbatical at San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park where he consulted on the nutritional management of zoo animals. Among the many awards and accolades throughout his career he was most proud of the Morrison Award given to him in 1988 by the American Society of Animal Science and The Distinguished Faculty Award from Michigan State University in 1991. He also took great joy in teaching young children about science; animals in particular having visited his grandchildren’s classrooms when they were young. He was also especially proud of the fact all four of his grandchildren attended Michigan State University. Duane retired in 1993 and spent winters in Florida. In his early 80’s he co-authored multiple chapters for animal nutrition textbooks and was still writing books about aspects of his life; having just published the latest one in late 2013. Even though Duane lived with the effects of polio from the age of 12 it never defined who he was. His many accomplishments were a tribute to his perseverance and determination to live a full life. Duane was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Susanne and son Henry J. Custer. He is survived by his daughters Kaye Custer (James) Chodl and Kim Custer (Michael) Erznoznik. He was a special grandfather to four grandchildren; Tom Chodl, Meg Erznoznik, Molly Erznoznik and Elisabeth Chodl. He is also survived by his sisters Ann (Richard) Kraft and Jaynce (Gerald) Robson and numerous nieces and nephews. Funeral Services will be held at the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, 1730 East Grand River East Lansing, Michigan on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 11:00am with visitation one hour prior.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Dr. Duane E. Ullrey Endowment for Graduate Education in Animal Science. Make checks payable to MSU. Please include Ullrey Endowment in check memo area. Mail donations to: ATTN: Laura Peek, University Advancement, MSU, 535 Chestnut Road, Room 300, East Lansing, MI 48824. On-line condolences may be made at


  • Visitation

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

  • Funeral Service

    Saturday, February 1, 2014


Duane E. Ullrey Ph.D.

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Deloy & Cora Hendricks

February 25, 2014

Dr. Ullrey has finished his work for his earthly existence. What a role model for endurance, work, service, teaching and caring he was. During 48 years in higher education we have observed few who could compare to Dr. Duane Ullrey and his co-worker Dr. Elwyn Miller. Early cold mornings, bleeding pigs and long hours collecting necropsy samples were used by both of these professors to actively teach what a Doctorate of Philosophy degree really meant. It was the beginning of learning. Thank you Dr. Ullrey, for being an exemplarily mentor for me.
-Deloy and Cora Hendricks 1963-1967
Providence, Utah

February 23, 2014

Duane was our next door neighbor in Okemos for the 8 years we lived there. We have stayed in touch and have been the fortunate recipient of the 3 personal books that he has written. He was such a special man; one of integrity with such a happy, positive attitude. He was to be admired not only for his great work but for his ability to move through life with such a tenacity. He sent us the best and funniest e-mails. We will miss him. He was an icon of a man and an example how we all should live. Marilyn & Larry Steen

Jodi Yotter

February 11, 2014

As a Florida neighbor and career farmer, conversations with Duane were lively and interesting. His door was always open. His face was always happy. Sandy was truly a great person that added quality to the life of a man who had so much to offer.

Michelle Kounelis

February 9, 2014

I was thrilled to have had Dr. Ullrey visit my 4th grade classroom when his granddaughter, Elizabeth was in my class and we were studying bears. Dr. Ullrey immediately captured the fourth graders' and my attention with his engaging, enthusiastic teaching style! He brought in bear skulls and bear chow for us to see. He patiently answered all of the students' questions. Science and teaching children about animals and respecting the environment are my special teaching goals and passions and having Dr.Ullrey visit my classroom at Woodland Elementary in Portage, Michigan was truly one of the highlights of my teaching career! Dr. Ullrey was a champion for teaching Science and he will be missed by many people.

Mary Allen

February 8, 2014

Duane was not only my academic advisor; he was a true mentor, a dear friend and my biggest supporter. He and Sue welcomed me into their family in the early '80s and we remained close ever since. He taught me so much more than comparative animal nutrition, he taught me about life.

Ellie Alexander

February 3, 2014

I worked in Dr. Ullrey's lab at MSU in the late 50's and early 60's. He was a great boss, both serious about his work and lots of fun. He warned me not to marry an economist, but I did anyway, and he and my husband became good friends. After my husband passed away in 2011, Duane called me from Florida regularly to make sure I was OK. He was such a caring person. He also sent me the books he recently wrote which were so interesting. I miss his calls and his sense of humor. He had a wonderful friend and caregiver in Sandy and he had a wonderful life.

Jerry Shurson

February 2, 2014

I have many fond memories of Duane from my Graduate School days in Animal Science at MSU. He had a positive influence on me and the lives and careers of many students. Duane, it was a true joy to know you and thanks for all you've done to make this world a better place.

Howard Stowe

February 1, 2014

The world's animal science community, particularly the segments practicing, teaching, and researching in the areas of non-ruminant, comparative and mineral nutrition have lost a remarkable, tireless colleague and friend. Duane and I first met in 1955 when I came to MSU, out of the army, to work on an MS degree in Animal Science. He served on my MS committee, introduced me to purified type diets and analytical equipment used in establishing nutrient requirements of livestock and was the primary inspiration of my ultimate professional career in animal nutrition and veterinary medicine.
Duane, thanks for all you taught me and for your friendship to Barbara and me.

Howard and Barbara Stowe

Mildred D. Miller

January 31, 2014

A very long time ago, Duane Ullrey joined the Animal Husbandry Department at Michigan State University where my husband, Elwyn R. Miller was into swine research. Having a mutual respect for each other and each other's work, the two coordinated research projects together. From a personal perspective, I remember Duane as an affable, easy to like fellow. Always with a genuine smile and dry wit. With his wife, Sue, the four of us had a long-lasting friendship through the years. I have forever heartfelt and fond memories of Duane and Sue.

Mildred D. Miller

January 31, 2014

Some time ago when Duane joined the Animal Husbandry Department at Michigan State University, he and my husband, Elwyn coordinated research projects together having a mutual respect for each other and their work. From a personal perspective, Duane was an affable, easy to like fellow. Always with a genuine smile and quick dry wit. With Sue, the four of us had a long-lasting friendship over the years. I will forever have heartfelt and fond memories of Duane and Sue.