July 20, 1915 – April 24, 2021
Born in Rural Western NE
Resided in Lincoln, NE
Howard Lyle Wiegers
Howard Lyle Wiegers, 105, died peacefully on Saturday, April 24, 2021. Howard was born on July 20th, 1915 on the family farm in Western, Nebraska to John and Alice Wiegers. Howard married Mary Irene “Mickie” (Caldwell) in 1942. He earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Nebraska’s College of Agriculture before moving to California to work for Lockheed during WWII. While in California, Howard sent for Mickie and they married. After the war, Howard studied briefly at Caltech and the University of Utah before the couple returned to Nebraska, where he earned a master’s degree at UNL. They bought an acreage just north of Lincoln, where they raised their two children, Jo Anne and John.
Howard began his career as a professor of poultry science in 1949 at UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, ultimately retiring in 1986. He is credited with making significant advances in turkey fertility processes. In addition to poultry science, Howard developed courses in wildlife management and was instrumental in developing what is now the Fisheries and Wildlife program. The Wildlife Club’s annual award—the Howard L. Wiegers Nebraska Outstanding Wildlife Conservation Award—was named in his honor.
In addition to teaching, Howard was a passionate advisor. During his career he advised hundreds of students, helping them navigate everything from course work to homesickness and career options. Howard’s advisees returned his generosity by writing and visiting over the decades. His home was filled with letters and postcards from former students, many of whom kept in touch with him for over forty years. Some students were lucky enough to take a course that culminated in a summer wilderness canoe trip to the Boundary Waters, where they would camp, hike, fish, and swap tales around the campfire for two weeks.
Howard undoubtedly learned his legendary storytelling abilities from his parents and beloved older brother, Claude, who passed away at the age of 104. Howard’s stories, whether they were about setting fish traps in a river, riding to town with Pop, or portaging in Canada, would invariably begin with the phrase: “Say, did I ever tell you about …?” Each tale would unravel slowly, tricking the listener into believing he’d lost his train of thought. Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he would suddenly end the tale, having come full circle—much to the listener’s delight. Many Father’s Days were spent taking turns around a hand-crank ice cream maker while Howard entertained his family.
Howard and Mickie divorced in 1975, and he later married Wanda (Maret). They spent the winters in Texas and would return each spring with crates of citrus fruit and Mexican vanilla. Howard was a member of First United Methodist Church and the Lincoln East Rotary Club. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Claude Wiegers, sister Reva Wiegers, Irene Caldwell Stevens, and Wanda Wiegers. He is survived by his children, JoAnne (Gordon) Bair of Lincoln and John (Chris) Wiegers of Pickrell; grandchildren, Amanda Bair of Plattsmouth, Cynthia (Brad) Bair Van Dam of Washington, DC, Andrea (Ivan) Haas of Woodinville, WA, Carly (Kyle) Parrish of Auburn; great-grandchildren, Violet Haas, Natalie Parrish, Landon Parrish, Grady Haas; and nieces and nephew, Linda Lewis of Texas, Judy Greene of Virginia, and John King of Iowa.
A celebration of his life will be held in July at First United Methodist Church. Memorials may be made to the Howard Wiegers Student Travel Support Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation (nufoundation.org) or First United Methodist Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.
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