LARAMIE—Donald Leo Stinson was born in Hominy, Oklahoma on the 8th of October 1930 to Clarence Edward and Eva Mae Park Stinson. He joined siblings, Katherine “Kay” Royce and Clarence Edward Stinson, Jr. As the son of an engineer with the Veteran’s Administration, Don grew up on various VA hospital compounds throughout the West.
He graduated from Sheridan High School in the spring of 1947 at age 16 and headed off to the University of Wyoming. He finished his bachelor’s degree in in chemical engineering at the University of Oklahoma in 1950 and then went on to the University of Michigan to begin his graduate studies, earning his master’s in 1951 and his PhD in 1957.
While attending the Wesley Foundation at Michigan, he met the love of his life, Betty Jane Hoehmann, a young nursing student from New Jersey. They were married in October of 1951 and have enjoyed 67 years together as true partners, each with their unique strengths, demonstrating the truth in the adage that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Their love and commitment to one another has been exemplary.
Dad also loved their six children a great deal and worked hard both to meet their needs and to provide important opportunities. He taught them the principles of integrity, hard work, and thrift which he demonstrated every day of his life. He was a man of conviction but he also had a sense of humor. The breadth of subjects which elicited his enthusiastic interest was daunting. Dad also thoroughly enjoyed his large, extended family and had a great relationship with many aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and cousins who grew to be dear to them both.
Education was very important to Dad and he was grateful that his parents provided him with the opportunity to pursue both undergraduate and graduate studies. He and Mom made significant sacrifices to ensure that their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would have the same opportunity to continue their educations beyond high school.
While working in Research and Development for Gulf Oil in Pennsylvania in 1960, the University of Wyoming extended an invitation to him to establish a petroleum engineering program there. He was very excited about the prospect of moving back to the West and teaching. He often told his posterity that one of life’s greatest blessings is to love one’s work – and he did. Like numerous other members of his family, he became a dedicated teacher. Dr. Stinson genuinely cared about his students. It has been heartwarming to read through letters from grateful students whom he had shown a personal interest in and helped in various “second mile” ways. He took a special interest in working with potential employers to place graduates in positions where they were most likely to succeed based on their individual strengths, which he recognized were not defined by their GPA’s. During his tenure as chair of both Petroleum and Chemical Engineering, UW was known for producing good, practical engineers that were well suited to tackle the challenges of the Rockies. Dr. Stinson was proud of his graduates and stayed in touch with many throughout their careers.
After leaving the University in 1981, Dr. Stinson enjoyed working as a consulting engineer for the next 36 years – receiving his last check for professional services at the age of 86. He had a solid, diverse background in all aspects of resource development issues that affect Wyoming. Examples would include his work on freeze/thaw methods to purify water in remote locations, gas flooding of both oil and gas reservoirs to enhance recovery, and most recently, the “Stinson Process” he developed to treat low BTU natural gas at the LaBarge Field in an environmentally and economically practical manner. He traveled twice to the former Soviet Union for professional exchanges. Though he had no desire to retire, he took down his shingle when the infirmities of age meant he could no longer give his clients good value for their money.
Dad also loved the great outdoors and particularly Wyoming. He was “ecologically conscientious” decades before it was fashionable to be so and took very seriously the responsibility to be a good steward of all resources placed in his hands. He enjoyed hiking, hunting, camping, fishing, and river trips in his silver canoe with anyone who was willing to go (and prepared to swim)!
Don was active in a host of professional organizations during his life, far too many to list. He was proudest of those closest to home: Wyoming State Board of Examining Engineers, Charter Member of the N. Rockies Chapter – Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers, and the local Professional Engineering Society. He was a registered professional engineer in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
Don and Betty have been members of the First United Methodist Church in Laramie for nearly 60 year now, giving generously of both their time and means. They were also involved for many years in the Masonic Orders and enjoyed various bridge groups.
Don was preceded in death by his parents; both siblings; son, Roger H. Stinson in 1968; and daughter, Ellen Stinson Amick (from MS) in 1986.
He is survived by his wfie, Betty Stinson; sons, Glen H. Stinson (Amanda) of Powell, Scott H. Stinson (Cheryl) of Centennial, Colorado, and Lee H. Stinson (Melanie) of Laramie; and daughter, Kathy Stinson Nicholes (David) of Salt Lake; granddaughter, Elizabeth Amick Chesney (Mark) (whom he helped raise) of Beaverton, Oregon; 11 other grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by nieces and nephews from both his and Mom’s family whom he loved as well.
Services will be held at 10:30 am on July 27th at the United Methodist Church in Laramie.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts to the Dr. Donald L. Stinson Memorial Scholarship care of: The University of Wyoming Foundation, 222 South 22nd Street, Laramie, WY 82070. All funds contributed will go to the scholarship for an engineering student. Contributions can also be made online at www.uwyo.edu/giveonline (please specify the Dr. Donald L Stinson Memorial Scholarship). Donations can also be made to the MS Society or to the charity of the donor’s choice.