Stanley Alan Hagstrom, 88, of Bloomington, passed away on October 2, 2019, at his home. He was born November 30, 1930, in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Arthur and Kathryn (Ernst) Hagstrom. He spent his childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, and later attended the University of Omaha, majoring in math, chemistry, and physics.
He completed his PhD in Physical Chemistry at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Stan’s last few years of research in quantum chemistry were at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. He later joined the IU Chemistry Department, and was involved in the development of IU’s first Computing Center and the IU Computer Science Department. He held half-time faculty roles Chemistry and Computer Science from 1974 until his retirement in 1994.
While a graduate student at IU, Stan met Elaine Ristinen, a doctoral student in Linguistics. They married three months after meeting, on March 24, 1956. They later purchased a house in Bloomington, which would be their lifelong home. Stan and Elaine, with their children, traveled whenever time permitted and spent two sabbatical years overseas.
Stan was very active throughout his life, and had a multitude of interests. He played tennis, volleyball, and squash; he flew small planes and gliders, went canoeing, hiking, mountaineering, and rock climbing; engaged in astronomy, woodworking, flower gardening, and bird-watching. In his early 50s, he became a serious bicyclist and was riding regularly until his mid-80s. He restored a vintage German glider and built telescope components.
Stan and Elaine raised two independent children; one inherited a talent for computer science, and the other for chemistry, which strongly influenced their choices of professional careers.
Stan will be deeply missed his two children: Eric Hagstrom and Katherine (Rocky) Carr; his grandchildren Patricia and Matthew; his great-granddaughter Eleanor; his brother Tom (Connie) Hagstrom; nieces Cindy, Nadine, and Carol; nephews Scott, Bradley, and Rick; and many cousins, friends, and colleagues. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, his parents, and his sister Marilyn (Hagstrom) Smith.
A Personal Tribute to Stanley Hagstrom
I met Stanley Alan Hagstrom in 1962 when he returned to IU from two years at the Lockheed Theoretical Physics Laboratory in Palo Alto. I had recently joined Harrison Shull’s quantum chemistry group as a postdoc. In that same year Dave Winkel came for a year on leave from the University of Wyoming. These three people had the most significant impact on my professional life.
Harry showed me the way a responsible professional should act, and he recognized that my future was in computing; in 1963, he arranged my first real job, in the IU Research Computing Center. Dave taught me digital hardware and led me to write our textbook on digital design, and was a lifelong friend.
Stan’s contributions to my growth spanned both the professional and personal. He was my model of a really good quantum chemist, and by observing him I grew to recognize that I would not make a good quantum chemist. I consider the switch to computing to be the second-best decision of my life (preceded only by my decision to marry Brenda).
Stan had a joint appointment in chemistry and in the Research Computing Center, and when I joined the RCC, Stan conscripted me to work with him and systems programmer Steve Young in writing the code for Fastran, which was to be the first fast Fortran compiler -- on the IBM 709 at least ten times the speed of the IBM product.
In 1967, when Stan returned for a year to Lockheed in California, he took Brenda and me with him. It was here that I made my only significant contribution to the theory of quantum chemistry. As long as I knew him Stan had a weight problem. In California, he would typically have no breakfast, eat two Metrecal cookies for lunch, and eat dinner under the watchful eye of his beloved wife Elaine. And he still couldn’t lose weight. In California he introduced me to rock climbing, which led to many years of challenge and enjoyment. On one trip to the Tetons, he took a minor fall and broke his glasses. Stan had flown us out in a small plane, and he flew us back without his glasses!
Stan was an avid amateur botanist, and he and Dave introduced me to flower keying. We spent many rewarding hours with our noses to the ground, keying wildflowers. One Spring Stan and Elaine took Brenda and me and our son Ed to the Smoky Mountains to look at the wildflowers. It would be the first of many springtime trips to the Smokies.
In the early 1980s Stan got me interested in recreational bicycling, and loaned me a bicycle to ride until I learned enough about bicycles that I could specify a bike of my own. Four days after I got my bicycle, he took me on an extended bikecamping tour – a circuit from Green Bay over the Michigan upper peninsula and down to Frankfort in lower Michigan where we caught the ferry back to Green Bay. Stan and I would ride together for many years, until shortly before his death.
I never saw Stan lose his temper – not once.
Stan, you have meant a lot to me; I miss you.
Stan Hagstrom presents an admirable combination of midwestern upbringing and academic preparation, a cosmopolitan, eclectic career in research, teaching, and technological innovation, and wonderful wit and good humor. He is a unique, vital individual who has a deep and lasting influence on his friends, associates, and students.
Stanley Alan Hagstrom was born on November 30, 1930, in Lincoln, Nebraska. He graduated from the Municipal University of Omaha magna cum laude in 1952 with a triple major in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Stan’s graduate work at Iowa State University was on the high-resolution spectra of the benzene singlet-triplet transition, under guidance of Harrison Shull. When Shull moved to Indiana University in 1955, Stan accompanied him, continuing a productive alliance that was to last many years. At Indiana Stan switched his research emphasis to theoretical chemistry, doing his dissertation work on the electronic structure of the hydrogen molecule. He received the doctorate in physical chemistry from Iowa State in 1957.
After one semester of a Sloan Foundation postdoctoral fellowship in the fall of 1957, Stan was asked to run Shull’s research group and teach graduate courses in physical chemistry while Shull was in Sweden for eighteen months. So, in 1958, Stan joined the faculty of the Indiana University chemistry department, where he rose through the ranks to achieve professor in 1970. During this period Stan was the tactical leader of Shull’s research group.
In 1957 Stan had begun working on the quantum-chemical molecular integral problem, which was the key to doing accurate calculations on molecular electronic structure. The methodology developed by Stan and his co-workers during this time remains the basis for many significant molecular calculations. Stan has continued to focus on computational quantum-chemical methods throughout his career. He has not followed the crowd in his research, but has pursued an independent path focused on very accurate solutions to the Schrödinger equation. Some of his calculations done twenty years ago for the beryllium atom are still among the most accurate available. His work has contributed to a general understanding of what is required for high accuracy and has been a useful guide to other quantum chemists. Stan’s computer program DERIC, for calculating diatomic molecular integrals, is still in regular use around the world after more than thirty years.
Following two years in the theoretical physics group at Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratories, where he worked on the theoretical predication of the properties of high-temperature air, Stan returned to Indiana University in 1962 with a joint appointment in chemistry and the Research Computing Center.
Stan has been a major user of and contributor to Indiana University’s computing facilities, beginning in the early days of digital computing when, during his two years of doctoral work at Indiana, Stan was probably the university’s largest user of computing. His programs to perform quantum-chemical computations were, for that era, huge, and pressed the limits of computer technology. Of necessity, Stan learned about computer hardware, operating systems, and compilers, and became the technical guru of the young computing movement here. Beginning in 1959 Stan served as assistant director, and later as associate director, of the Research Computing Center.
Dissatisfied with the performance of IBM’s Fortran II compiler, Stan initiated the Fastran (fast Fortran) compiler project in the fall of 1963. During the next eight months he directed two Indiana colleagues in producing the first high-speed Fortran compiler. This landmark program, among the first to be copyrighted, compiled programs one to two orders of magnitude faster than the commercial Fortran compiler, and made possible significant savings in valuable computer time. Fastran was used extensively at universities in the United States, and was the model for the University of Waterloo’s famous WatFor student compiler for the new IBM 360 series of machines. The Fastran project remains a high point for the three participants.
Stan was also influential in the early development of the computer science program at Indiana University. In 1971, with the formation of the computer science department, Stan resigned his half-time appointment in the computing center to accept a half-time position in the department, while continuing his research and teaching in chemistry. In computer science he quickly showed a remarkable ability to teach new courses on short notice. Over the years he has taught widely in the computer science curriculum, and is admired for his flexibility and keen insight. In 1975-76 he served as acting chair of the department.
Stan has held visiting positions at four different universities overseas. From 1978 to 1980 he spent two years as software manager for the National Resource for Computational Chemistry at the University of California at Berkley. Stan’s creative energies have produced over thirty publications and an equal number of significant computer programs and systems.
In March 1956 Stan married Elaine K. Ristinen, a doctoral student in linguistics at Indiana University. They have two children, Eric, born in August 1957, and Katherine, born in November 1960. Stan and Elaine have been frequent travelers, often arranging to combine their professional interests so they could travel together.
Most of Stan’s early years were lived in Omaha, with summers spent working on his uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. It was here that Stan’s love of the outdoors and his deep knowledge of the natural world were fostered. As soon as he could legally drive, he started taking long canoe trips in Ontario. In the early 1960s Stan developed a love of rock climbing, snow camping, and snow mountaineering. He is an accomplished pilot of sailplanes and power planes. In addition to his activities in the air and water, Stan enjoys growing and identifying flowers, watching birds, building telescopes, woodworking, playing tennis and volleyball, bicycling, and cross-country skiing.
Throughout his career at Indiana University, Stan has been known for his unfailing good humor and friendliness. He has been an inspiration to several generations of undergraduate and graduate students. Stan continues his study of the electronic structure of small molecules. In retirement he has produced the most accurate calculation of the energy levels of the hydrogen molecule – a fitting modern reprise of his doctoral work.