John A. Shellenberger was born in 1900; he went from riding a horse to a one-room-school in Moline, Illinois to seeing a man land on the moon. Throughout his life he embodied the vigorous application of scientific methods that would transform American agriculture and the breadstuffs industry in particular.
John was introduced to the milling industry as a teenager by W.L. Haley, chief chemist of the Fisher Flouring Mills Company. John achieved a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Washington while employed at Fisher. He earned his master’s degree in milling technology at Kansas State University; this led to a position of assistant agricultural chemist at the University of Idaho. John reached his final academic milestone at the University of Minnesota, where a Rockefeller research assistantship in the agricultural biochemistry division enabled him to attain a doctorate in biochemistry. Later he accepted a position for Mennel Milling Co., in Fostoria, Ohio, where a colleague introduced him to his future wife, Annable. They were blessed with three daughters and eight grandchildren.
Dr. Shellenberger was the recipient of three awards for his work in cereal chemistry: the Gold Medal of the Association of Operative Millers; the Neumann Medal of the Association of Cereal Research, the Outstanding Achievement Gold Medal of the University of Minnesota. Two awards from the American Association of Cereal Chemists International: the first recipient of the Frank Schwain Award and the C.H. Bailey Award. In addition he received two distinguished alumni medals from Kansas State University. John was a prolific writer; estimated that he published 200 technical papers and co-authored the book, Bread Science and Technology.
For twenty-one years John was head of the Department of Flour and Feed Milling Industries at Kansas State University, expanding the industry and working with the state legislature to enhance the milling program to include feed and baking programs. During his career at Kansas State he embarked upon numerous overseas assignments on grain technology for the U.S. government, foreign countries, and private companies. John stepped down as department head in 1966, but continued to teach five additional years, retiring in 1971. KSU recognized his contributions by naming the milling industries building Shellenberger Hall in 1970. He remained active as a Distinguished Professor Emeritus until his death in 1987.
John A. Shellenberger committed his vigor, education, intelligence and practical experience to the milling and baking industry. A person’s religion and nationality did not matter to him: what mattered was truth and excellence in the milling industry. The Milling & Baking News remembered his life as “one of the most influential in the modern history of breadstuffs.”
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