Mary Katherine Korslund, 86, of Blacksburg, Va., passed away on April 29, 2021.

Korslund’s professional career was driven by an interest in teaching that started in a country school in rural Iowa tutoring a young cousin. She earned a bachelor of science degree in foods and nutrition from Iowa State University in 1956, followed by dietetics internships from the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin. She returned to Iowa State to earn a Master of Science in 1962. In 1964, she accepted an assistant professor position with Virginia Tech’s Department of Human Nutrition and Foods, where she remained on the faculty for 31 years until her retirement in 1995. During that time, she was granted a leave of absence to study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and she received her doctoral degree in 1972.

One of Korslund’s research projects at Virginia Tech focused on determining and meeting the nutrient needs of children and adolescents. She developed this with former Department Head Jewel Ritchey.

“Mary devised the appropriate diets and made certain the youngsters consumed them,” Ritchey said. "Our project, ‘Nutrition Camp – A Method for Human Nutrition Research,’ required a large staff for supervision of subjects, diet preparation, recreation, and laboratory analyses, and the results were published in the Home Economics Research Journal."

Korslund is remembered with fondness by the many students and colleagues for whom she provided guidance and wisdom over many years of teaching classes and designing research projects. She was described as a collaborative colleague, a team player, and a powerful mentor in a relatively new and emerging field of science-based human nutrition and its application by dietitians. She was particularly acknowledged as an outstanding advisor who enabled students to achieve accreditation in the dietetics field, and for initiating and guiding the dietetics internship program based in Northern Virginia and Blacksburg.

"I was fortunate to have had Dr. Korslund as a professor while getting my Ph.D. here at Virginia Tech. What I remember most was her gentleness, kindness, and passion for teaching and research," said Department Head Stella Volpe.

Mary Korslund in her Wallace Hall office, circa 1980.
Mary Korslund in her Wallace Hall office, circa 1980.

Korslund was also an enthusiastic Hokie sports fan who held a mid-field season ticket in Lane Stadium since Frank Beamer played in the backfield. For many years, she and a group of friends held season tickets to men's and women's basketball, and she was an avid follower of the wrestling team. She was an active member of Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in Blacksburg, where she enjoyed singing in the choir.

Korslund was preceded in death by her parents, Edwin and Clara, and older siblings, Allen, Jeannette, and Lois. She is survived by a sister-in-law, Charlene Korslund; four nephews, John Korslund, David Korslund, Douglas Korslund, and James Korslund; two cousins, Brian Rainer and Mary Nan Meyer; and eight grandnephews and nieces. Her loss is also mourned by her special companion dog, Happy, and numerous close friends in the Blacksburg area who were devoted to remaining close to her.

Funeral services will be conducted outdoors at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 5, 2021, at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, with indoors the alternative in the event of rain. Interment of cremains will occur later with family graveside services near Eagle Grove, Iowa. Arrangements by McCoy Funeral Home, Blacksburg.

For those wishing to remember her, the family suggests that gifts be directed to a hunger or spiritual mission of your choice.


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