STANGEL, WENZEL LOUIS
STANGEL, WENZEL LOUIS (1889–1978). Wenzel Louis Stangel, university dean, one of five children of John Joseph and Ann (Seidenglanz) Stangel, was born on August 16, 1889, in Stangelville, Wisconsin, a town named for his father and uncle. His mother died when he was three years old. In 1897 the family moved to a farm near Bryan, Texas, and ten years later located in Fort Worth, where John Stangel went into business. Short in stature, Louis, who was nicknamed "Runt" by his Texas friends, graduated from Fort Worth's North Side High School in 1910 and entered Texas A&M, where he graduated in 1915 with a B.S. degree in agriculture. He then enrolled at the University of Missouri, where he received an M.S. degree in animal husbandry in 1916 before returning to Texas A&M as a member of its faculty. During World War I Stangel served in the Ninetieth Division but resumed his teaching career following his discharge. In the fall of 1919 he coached the winning livestock judging team at the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago, an event that led to his promotion to full professorship. Stangel married Mary Ruth Canon on December 29, 1920, and they had two daughters. In 1925 Stangel accepted the invitation of the newly-chartered Texas Technological College in Lubbock to become a member of its first faculty as chairman of the animal husbandry department. Aside from his teaching, counseling, and supervisory responsibilities, he traveled widely throughout the United States to various livestock judging appointments and professional meetings. He served as a director in several state livestock associations and helped organize the Panhandle-Plains Dairy Show, which he served as president. Stangel also was president of the Texas Holstein-Friesian Association and supervised one of the divisions of the annual Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show. From 1927 on, he served the State Fair of Texas in some capacity, and in 1935 took a leave of absence from Tech to serve as manager of the livestock exhibits at the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. For twenty-five years he served as chairman of the Texas Tech Athletic Council and was a central figure in the controversy surrounding the flamboyant football coach, Peter Cawthon. Stangel was particularly interested in youth participation in various livestock affairs. Many junior livestock shows were organized throughout Texas during his time, and he served as the first judge in several of them. He later declared that he had judged so many livestock shows throughout the Southwest that it was impossible to count them.
Soon after coming to Texas Tech, Stangel instigated a series of cattle and sheep feeding experiments. These were continued through the years and formed the basis for a number of papers and published articles on animal science. As Tech's dean of agriculture, he pioneered cooperative research with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and later expanded it into a formal agreement approved by the boards of directors of both institutions. He was a prime mover in obtaining for Tech part of the Old Pantex Ordnance Plant near Amarillo, when the federal government deactivated it after World War II, and developing it into a large research-demonstration farm, which included the organization of a bull progeny testing station and an annual sale of performance-tested beef bulls. When the State Fair of Texas reorganized at the close of the war, Stangel accepted its position of general livestock superintendent. He continued his travels both nationwide and abroad, including judging appointments in Cuba and Colombia and a visit to Central America as a guest of the United Fruit Company. In 1946 he helped found the National Farm Life Insurance Company of Fort Worth and served as its chairman of the board.
Among the professional organizations in which Stangel held memberships were the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Animal Production, Phi Eta Sigma, Gamma Sigma Delta, and Alpha Zeta. He was also president of the National Block and Bridle Club and the Texas Agricultural Workers' Association. In civic affairs he was president of the Lubbock Kiwanis Club and also a member of the Lubbock Country Club. He was a deacon of First Baptist Church of Lubbock and president of its Downtown Bible Class. In 1951 Stangel was honored by Progressive Farmer as man of the year in service to agriculture. In 1956 the West Texas Chamber of Commerce designated him a "Top West Texan," and his alma mater, Texas A&M, conferred upon him an honorary doctor of laws degree. To his students and colleagues, he was known variously as "Mr. Southwest Agriculture," "Dean of the School of Five Points," "The Little Man with the Big Cigar," and "Doctor of Horse Sense." At his retirement in 1958 the Agriculture Club, a student organization at Texas Tech, dedicated the college's newly furnished Aggie Lounge and Reading Room to him. Even after retirement Stangel continued to serve in an advisory capacity to agricultural faculty and students until 1974. In 1964 he donated some 400 books from his personal collection to the Killgore Beef Cattle Research Center near Amarillo. A scholarship fund was begun in his honor in 1972, and a residence hall on the Tech campus bears his name. Stangel died at his Lubbock residence on May 16, 1978, and was interred in Resthaven Mausoleum. His papers are housed in the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech.
Seymour V. Connor, ed., Builders of the Southwest (Lubbock: Southwest Collection, Texas Technological College, 1959). Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, May 17, 1978. Etta Lynch, Tender Tyrant: The Legend of Pete Cawthon (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains Press, 1976). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.