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Retired zoologist Herbert Eastlick dies

Herbert L. Eastlick, professor emeritus of zoology at Washington State University, died June 20 at Pullman, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 94.

During his 33 years at WSU, Eastlick was devoted to preparing students for professional careers in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine. He once described himself as a “taskmaster and autocrat in the classroom,” motivated by his overriding concern for his students and the rigid demands they would face in professional schools. He mentored thousands and gained a reputation among medical schools for honest, accurate evaluations of the students he taught and advised. Often, deserving WSU applicants were admitted to leading schools on the basis of his word.

Eastlick joined the WSU faculty in 1940. He was chairman of the Department of Zoology from 1947 to 1964, and chaired the Faculty Executive Committee in 1955-56. He also helped create WSU’s nationally ranked Honors Program and presented, in 1961, the University’s eighth Faculty Invited Address, on his research.

He was widely respected for his research on the origin of pigment cells in vertebrates, development of muscle tendon, fat bodies and host-graft reaction. In 1939, he made the first successful transplant between two different species of warm-blooded vertebrates—the growth of a duck leg on a chicken.

The Montana native grew up on a farm miles from the nearest town and received a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Montana in 1930. He completed his master’s and doctorate degrees in zoology at Washington University in St. Louis, where many of his former WSU students later attended medical school. At Washington University, he met and married fellow graduate student, Margaret “Peg” Gardiner, who survives him at Pullman.

Early in his career, he taught at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and in 1939, he received a National Research Council Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation and went to the University of Chicago to work under the well-known embryologist, Paul Weiss. It was there that he met Washington State College President E.O. Holland, who hired him as an assistant professor of zoology.

In 1979, the new Eastlick Biological Sciences Building was dedicated in honor of the Eastlicks. His wife taught bacteriology and pathology and supervised the pathology laboratories in the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSU for 23 years.

At his retirement in 1973, many of his former students and friends helped to establish a scholarship in his name, which has grown through the years and has been awarded to many deserving students.

The Eastlicks pledged their estate to Washington State University to create undergraduate scholarships for students based on their ability and need. More recently, the Eastlick Distinguished Professorship has been established through the efforts of his former students. Nancy Magnuson, professor of immunology, has been named as its first recipient.

Cremation has taken place, and at his request, there will be no services. Memorials should be made to the Herbert L. Eastlick Scholarship in care of the WSU Foundation, P.O. Box 641042, Pullman, WA 99164-1042.

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