In memoriam: Horace Edward Alphin, dairy science benefactor, alumnus, and distinguished army officer
Col. Horace Edward Alphin — a prodigious benefactor to Virginia Tech, alumnus, and distinguished military officer — died on Jan. 15. He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony on April 15. He was 102 years old.
A faithful alumnus of Virginia Tech, Alphin funded scholarships for cadets as well as undergraduate and graduate scholarships in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Alphin also funded three professorships in the college, including two in the Department of Dairy Science and one in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. All three Alphin professorships support outstanding teaching and research faculty members.
Alphin was also a contributor to the construction of the Alphin–Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena, which was dedicated in 2004. It is named for Alphin and his wife, Elizabeth, as well as the late Patricia Bonsall Stuart.
The arena boasts a 125-by-250-foot ring with a prescription earthen floor, classroom space, office space, bleacher seating for 450, animal holding pens, and a kitchen and concession area and is currently the focal point for many livestock competitions and horse shows on campus.
“His legacy as far as support for the Department of Dairy Science has been tremendous,” said Mike Akers, an Alphin Professor of Dairy Science and head of the department. “It’s hard to overestimate the effect Col. Alphin's support has had. I’ve funded 16 graduate students with the help of his scholarships.”
H.E. and Elizabeth Alphin Professor and Associate Dean of Research Saied Mostaghimi has also benefited greatly from the Alphin legacy.
“Alphin’s vision and generosity in creating the professorship, which I have had the honor of holding since 2002, has not only positively impacted my own research program, but has also benefited many of my graduate students," Mostaghimi said. "These students have gone on to become true leaders in their profession and are making positive impacts on the lives of people throughout the world."
After graduating from Buchanan High School, Alphin attended Virginia Tech, then called Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in dairy husbandry in 1934. That same year he was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve. The following year he received a master’s degree in dairy bacteriology after being awarded a fellowship in the biology department.
The military called for Alphin in 1936 and he served at Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Pennsylvania for one year. That same year Alphin returned to his background in agriculture as an assistant extension agent with the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service in Tarboro, North Carolina, and later as county agent in Nash County. There he worked hard to diversify farm income, was a 4-H director, president of the Lions Club, and a member Alpha Zeta Fraternity.
His distinguished military career included service at numerous duty stations including Seoul, Korea, and Heidelberg, Germany. His last overseas assignment was that of adjutant general to Headquarters, 8th Army and adjutant general of United Nations Command in Seoul, Korea.
He completed his military career serving as director of Personnel Services Support Directorate, U.S. Army at the Pentagon, retiring in 1967 with more than 33 years service. After retirement from the Army he served as director of placement and personnel consultant for Automation Institute, then as director of personnel for Columbia Hospital, in Washington, D.C.
Though Alphin eventually retired in Northern Virginia and lived and traveled the world over, he often spoke fondly of Buchanan, Virginia, in Botetourt County and his experience growing up on the family farm.
Alphin will be laid to rest with full military honors at a graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery at 9 a.m. on April 15. A catered reception will follow the service at the Women’s Memorial from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.