Drackley, Gilpin to be honored

By Per Peterson

This year’s inductees into the Tracy Area High School Wall of Fame are Dr. James Drackley (Class of 1978) and Gladys Gilpin (Class of 1925). The pair will be honored at this year’s American Education Banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at The Caboose.

Dr. James Drackley

Dr. James K. Drackley

Dr. Drackley is Professor of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Following graduation from Tracy High School in 1978, he received his BS degree in Dairy Science from South Dakota State University and continued on to earn an MS degree in Dairy Science there. Drackley then completed his PhD in Nutritional Physiology from Iowa State University in 1989. He joined the faculty of the University of Illinois the same year.

Dr. Drackley has had a highly productive career at Illinois. He has trained more than 45 MS and PhD students, who have gone on to become successful professionals in the dairy industry or in higher education. He has consistently been on the University of Illinois’ List of Excellent Teachers, while teaching courses in animal nutrition and metabolism. Drackley has procured more than $7.3 million in research funding to support his research program. His research deals with nutrition and metabolism of dairy cows during the transition from pregnancy to lactation, calf nutrition and management, and fat feeding to dairy cows. He has published more than 200 articles in refereed scientific journals, as well as 1 book, 15 book chapters, and numerous abstracts, bulletins and popular press articles.

Dr. Drackley has received a number of awards from the University of Illinois and the American Dairy Science Association for research excellence, including being named a Fellow of the American Dairy Science Association. He has been active in his professional association, the American Dairy Science Association, having served as Chair of the Production Division, and as a member of the Board of Directors. Dr. Drackley is widely sought out by the global dairy feed industry for speaking and consulting activities. He has been fortunate enough to travel to 25 countries.

Jim is most proud of his three sons, Patrick, Michael, and Andrew, all of whom have earned advanced degrees. Drackley and his wife, Tonya Moore, reside in Urbana, IL, where they share a home with two dogs and three cats. They enjoy camping, fishing, gardening and travel.

Drackley credits Tracy High School and his parents for instilling a love of learning. Tracy High School prepared him well academically for his college and graduate degrees, he said.

Gladys Gilpin

Gladys Gilpin

“All virtues and accomplishments are hers, She is a scholar and a musician.”

— 1925 Tracy High School Teton, describing Gladys Gilpin

The accolades given to Gladys Gilpin in her senior yearbook 97 years ago were only the beginning. The 1925 Tracy High School graduate left home to earn a Master’s degree in home economics and to establish a distinguished career in food nutrition research with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

Gilpin will be inducted posthumously; she died in 2003 at Prairie View Healthcare Center in Tracy at the age of 95.

“Gladys would be so pleased,” her younger sister, Genevieve Schentzel, said in a telephone interview with the high school from her home in Edina. “She had many good memories of growing up in Tracy.”

In high school, Gladys was known as a gifted pianist and played in the school orchestra and band. 

“I know she thought a lot of her teachers,” Genevieve said. “When she studied for a test she would pass with flying colors.”

Her older sister enjoyed reading and socializing with friends, she added. “She was a very fun-loving person.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in home economics from the University of Minnesota in 1929, Gilpin taught for several years at Stillwater High School. From 1937-1944, she served as a research assistant at the University of Minnesota while pursuing her Master’s degree in Home Economics. After  attaining her Master’s, she served as  home extension agent for Los Angeles County in California. In  1945 she joined the research laboratory staff at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in Washington DC, serving as a home economist food researcher.

An avid traveler, Gilpin frequently led tours for the U.S. Ag Department to many locations, including all South American countries, Australia, New Zealand, and China.

According to her sister, Gladys also enjoyed traveling with friends. Her first of many trips to Europe took place in 1931. On another occasion, she accompanied her mother and an aunt to visit relatives in Sweden.

The nutritionist returned to Tracy in 1965 to help care for her mother, Grace. In retirement, she was an active member of Tracy United Methodist Church and the Wabanaki women’s study club. 

Gladys’ parents, Grace and Jonathan D. Gilpin, published the Tracy Headlight and Tracy Headlight-Herald for more than 30 years.

Bios submitted by Tracy Area High School