Obituary: James Stephen Brinks

Dr. James Stephen Brinks, 81, of LaPorte, died at home on June 11, 2015, due to complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Brinks was born on Jan. 2, 1934, in South Haven, Mich., to Jacob E. and Evelyn Kahne Brinks. The middle of five children, he was raised in a religious Lutheran home.

The family moved to Plymouth, Mich., when he was four years old. He attended a one-room school house from kindergarten through fifth grade, when the school district was consolidated. He graduated from Plymouth High School in l952 and earned a bachelor of science degree from Michigan State University in 1956 and a master’s degree in l957. His Michigan State education was paid for largely by 4-H scholarships earned for livestock judging. He belonged to the agriculture fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho.

He received his Ph.D. in animal breeding and genetics from Iowa State University in l960. His first job was in Denver, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, where from l960 through l967, he was investigations leader for beef cattle breeding research for the land-grant colleges in 12 Western states.

He joined the animal sciences faculty at Colorado State University in l967 and continued there until his retirement as a professor in l992. He was a major advisor for 76 master’s and Ph.D. candidates and made important contributions to the beef cattle industry. He received many awards, including the J.R. Prentice Memorial Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics from the American Society of Animal Science, Jack E. Cermak Advising Award, and Oliver P. Pennock Distinguished Service Award. He was author or co-author of more than 200 publications dealing with beef cattle genetics and was often invited to speak at beef cattle meetings in the United States, Australia, Spain, Brazil and Argentina. His work and writings are well respected by academics and industry professionals alike.

He served for many years on the Larimer County Planning Commission and on the boards of directors of Pleasant Valley, Lake Canal and Larimer County Farm Bureau.

Jim married Sharon Lee Muir in Saline, Mich., in 1955. After giving birth to a son and adopting a daughter, she died of leukemia in l968. He married Rose Stehno Dean in l969 in the newly built Blessed John XXIII church on the CSU campus. They lived on Sheely Drive in Fort Collins until moving for a one-year sabbatical in Maryland, and then permanently to their LaPorte farm.

During this period, he built a cabin on Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, which the family enjoyed for 30 years.

Jim is survived by his wife, Rose; his sons Kevin (Kati) Brinks of Centennial, Dr. Alan (Kathleen) Dean of Fort Collins, Rex Dean of Waltham, Mass., Dr. Andrew Dean (Dr. Marta) of LaPorte, twins John Brinks of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jim Brinks of LaPorte; his daughters, Karen Wetzbarger of Loveland, Dr. Laura Pritchett (Dr. James) of Bellvue, and Mary Dean of Fort Collins; his siblings Donald Brinks of Pagosa Springs, Dave Brinks of Flint, Mich., and Susan Shade of Fort Collins; 18 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents and brother Kenneth Brinks.

Until triple bypass surgery in 2003, Jim loved smoking his corncob pipe, bowling, hunting, fishing, golf, skiing, playing poker, traveling and raising cattle. In the 1980s and 1990s, he developed a composite breed cow herd, which graced his historic farm along the Poudre River in LaPorte. He was unquestionably a workaholic. Both he and his family learned to build fences, ditch irrigate, buck hay, brand cattle, pull calves, garden and can, and all the rest that goes with farm life.

In 1993, the Provost and Claymore (aka Lessert) descendants of the original owners of his farm had a reunion in LaPorte and took Jim into the Lakota Oglala Sioux tribe with the name: Down to Earth Man. Jim was laid to rest in Grandview Cemetery, next to the grave of John Provost, the first owner of the farm.

The last 12 years of his life were clouded with Alzheimer’s, which he faced with reality and grace. He never lost his innate kindness or his gentleman’s dignity, nor his desire every day to get up and go somewhere.

A funeral mass, celebrated by the Revs. Steven Voss and Greg Ames, was held June 15 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fort Collins.

Friends may send condolences to the family at In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Abbey of St. Walburga, to St. Joseph’s parish, or to a charity of choice.

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