Teacher at heart

by Laurie Gorton
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It’s the rare teacher who gets to instruct students in subjects whose science he pioneered. Although Class of 2015 Baking Hall of Fame honoree Donald K. Dubois found his calling in education 30 years into his career, he contributed strongly to the scientific aspects of baking from the day he joined Doty Laboratories in 1944 as a new Kansas State graduate in milling and baking chemistry.

From vital wheat gluten and icing stabilizers to emulsifiers and wheat starch, there was hardly a bakery ingredient, formula or process in which he wasn’t the “go to” expert, according to Theresa Cogswell, principal, BakerCogs, Olathe, KS, and a member of the American Society of Baking (ASB) Baking Hall of Fame Evaluation Committee.

James L. Vetter, PhD, retired technical vice-president of AIB International, worked closely with Mr. Dubois for 20 years. “He was so knowledgeable, but more than that was his willingness to share that information with others,” Dr. Vetter said. “In addition to his regular responsibilities, he often would fill in as an instructor at the school of baking, sometimes for weeks or even longer. He shared his knowledge with his students and the staff. Maybe his greatest legacy was sharing in technology transfer worldwide for the betterment of people in the baking industry. He traveled to 21 different countries.

“For me, he was not just a colleague at work,” Dr. Vetter noted. “He was a real friend. We both retired 17 years ago, but we continued to get together regularly. That’s unusual in business.”

At Doty, Mr. Dubois rose to the position of chief chemist, a position he then took at Crete Mills in 1951. Four years later, he joined Hercules, Inc., where he held management positions in the cellulose and protein products divisions, supervising technical service. It was here that he started writing technical bulletins and articles. From 1966-78, he worked at ITT Paniplus becoming the company’s technical marketing manager.

Bringing the experience of a long career in bakery ingredients, Mr. Dubois joined AIB in 1978 as manager of technical assistance and was later named director of experimental baking and technical assistance. In this role, Mr. Dubois became known as the “Ann Landers of the baking industry,” one colleague said.

His overseas travel included China and the Soviet Union. In 1979, he launched the AIB Research Department Technical Bulletin with a report on English muffin technology and served as its editor until he retired in 1987. But his work didn’t end then. In 1989, he compiled AIB’s “Glossary of Bakery Terms,” which defines more than 1,400 baking-related words. He also helped prepare a database to assist bakers in meeting mandatory nutrient content labeling. Accepted by the Food and Drug Administration, the AIB database allowed bakers to quickly calculate values for the Nutrition Facts panel without waiting months for lab analysis.

Official recognition for Mr. Dubois’ achievements include AIB Employee of the Year in 1984, the AACC William F. Geddes Memorial Award in 1985, the Wheat Quality Council Full Kernel Wheat Award in 1986 and the ASB Robert A. Fischer distinguished service award in 2004.

In addition to presenting five technical papers at ASB’s meetings, he served the group as its 1972 program chair and chairman of its publication committee from 1972-78 and was a 50-year member.

Mr. Dubois led a rich and full life outside the baking industry. He was an expert marble collector and the father of 12. He served as the family historian and genealogist. He died March 30, 2014, at age 93.

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