In Memoriam: Stanley Alan Hagstrom 1930-2019

Stanley Alan Hagstrom, 88, of Bloomington, passed away on October 2, 2019 at his home, from cancer. He was born November 30, 1930, in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Arthur and Kathryn (Ernst) Hagstrom. The family moved around in his early years, eventually settling in the Benson area of Omaha, Nebraska, where Stan attended local schools. He enjoyed spending summers at his uncle’s farm in Wisconsin, and related that he once wanted to be a farmer, until he saw how hard farmers worked. After high school, Stan attended the University of Omaha, completing his undergraduate degree with majors in math, chemistry, and physics. He went on to complete his PhD in Physical Chemistry at what is now Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, with Dr. Harrison Shull as his advisor.

The relatively new field of quantum chemistry was Stan’s focus, and the last few years of research were at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. He later joined the IU faculty in the Chemistry Department, Quantum Chemistry group, led by Dr. Shull, and was one of the founders of the Quantum Chemistry Program Exchange (QCPE). Quantum chemistry was one of the early scientific areas to use computers, which led Stan to be involved in the development of Indiana University’s first Computing Center in the 1960s and of the Computer Science Department in the early 1970s. Initially a full-time faculty member of the Chemistry Department, he transitioned in 1974 to half-time faculty roles in two departments:  Chemistry and Computer Science. He retired from Indiana University as Professor Emeritus in 1994; he continued to collaborate with colleagues for another 20 years.

When Stan was a graduate student at Indiana University, he met Elaine Ristinen, a doctoral student in Linguistics, through a mutual acquaintance. They knew within 10 days of their meeting that they were right for each other, and married just three months later, on March 24, 1956, at the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington. After spending a few years in Bloomington and northern California, they purchased a house a few blocks south of campus, which would be their lifelong home. Stan and Elaine, with their children, traveled whenever time permitted and included two sabbatical years overseas (living in Finland and Japan). Off-the-beaten-path was the norm for family travel. His children recall long canoe trips to Maine and northern Minnesota, a 6-week road trip to Alaska (1200 miles of gravel road each direction, in 1976), and ski trips to Wyoming and Colorado, among other adventures.

Stan was very active throughout his life, and had a multitude of interests, embarking regularly on wilderness adventures with friends and family. He played tennis, volleyball, and squash; he flew small planes and gliders, went canoeing, hiking, spelunking, mountaineering, and rock climbing; engaged in astronomy, woodworking, flower gardening (orchids and amaryllis in particular) and bird-watching. In his early 50s, he became a serious bicyclist and continued to ride regularly until his mid-80s. A notable trip was a solo bicycle ride from Tijuana to La Paz, Mexico, down the Baja Peninsula, when he was 72.

He studied and photographed wild flowers, and would not hesitate to stop to examine a wildflower while on a bike ride. He restored a vintage German glider and, with a friend, built telescope components. In retirement, Stan’s activities were primarily tennis, gliding, and bicycling. He also looked forward to a weekly luncheon with his ROMEO group (“real old men eating out”).

Stan and Elaine raised two independent children; one inherited a talent for computer science, and the other for chemistry, which strongly influenced their choices of professional careers.

Stan will be deeply missed his two children: Eric Hagstrom and Katherine (Rocky) Carr; his grandchildren Patricia and Matthew; his great-granddaughter Eleanor; his brother Tom (Connie) Hagstrom; nieces Cindy, Nadine, and Carol; nephews Scott, Bradley, and Rick; and many cousins, friends, and colleagues. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Elaine Ristinen, his parents, and his sister Marilyn (Hagstrom) Smith.

In honor of Stan’s wishes, a funeral will not be held. If desired, memorials  may be made to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank or the American Cancer Society.