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Memories & Candles

“'Generous' is the word that comes to mind when I think of Sande. He was generous with his time and his knowledge, and generous of spirit in...Read More »
1 of 22 | Posted by: John Gibbs - Former colleague

“Dear Margo and family. We were so sorry to hear of the death of Sande. He helped so many young people and instilled in them the love of science as...Read More »
2 of 22 | Posted by: Matt and Nancy Clark - Algona, IA

“Margo and Family I was sorry to hear about Sande passing. Margo and family my thoughts and prayers are with you. He will be missed by all. Mary...Read More »
3 of 22 | Posted by: Mary Maloney - Des Moines, IA

“Although I only spoke with Dr. McNabb a few times at the SSTFI, we all appreciate the support that he and Margo gave to our young science students...Read More »
4 of 22 | Posted by: Kyle Van Ausdall

“Dear McNabb Family, Our deepest sympathies at your loss. Dr. McNabb was a great man and did so many wonderful things in his lifetime. Alan and I...Read More »
5 of 22 | Posted by: Alan & Andrea Spencer - Ames, IA

“Heartfelt sympathy to Sande's family and friends! We just learned about Sande passing from my daughter Alicia Schiller-Holland this morning. We...Read More »
6 of 22 | Posted by: Ernest and Cheryl Schiller - IA

“So sorry to hear this news about Sande. I am truly honored to have known him and worked with him and serve as a witness of his mentoring and...Read More »
7 of 22 | Posted by: Nina Grant - Toledo, OH

“Even though I did not know Dr. McNabb well, he was a good role model to me. I met him through our association at the George Washington Carver...Read More »
8 of 22 | Posted by: Kay Hively - Neosho, MO

“Dear Margo and family - So sorry to learn of Sande's passing. He was so much more that my mentor; he was a dear friend and adviser through much of...Read More »
9 of 22 | Posted by: Virgil Howe - Hays, KS

“Dear Margo and family, Sande was the most important teacher and mentor I had while pursuing my education. The first time I met him was as a high...Read More »
10 of 22 | Posted by: Michelle Cram - Athens, GA

“Dear Margo. Peter, Genene, and families. Very sorry to hear of Sande's passing. I will remember him as always being there to help me when I needed...Read More »
11 of 22 | Posted by: Phil and Jane wargo - wallingford, CT

“I am sorry to hear of Sande's passing, and Sheila and I send our condolences to Margo, Genene and Peter. Sande was a most inspirational teacher. He...Read More »
12 of 22 | Posted by: Chris Walker Gloucester, England

“Margo and Family, Sande will be missed and remembered by all he touched. Sande took me under his wing while working on my PhD in Plant Pathology ...Read More »
13 of 22 | Posted by: Tom Green - Macomb, IL

“Sande you will be missed. You were a great role model to me when I was a beginning assistant professor. I especially admire your dedication to...Read More »
14 of 22 | Posted by: Allen Miller - Ames, IA

“Dear Margo, Peter, and Genene-- Sande will be greatly missed. He was an amazing mentor who provided an environment in which I could freely explore...Read More »
15 of 22 | Posted by: Nupur Ghoshal - Friend

“Margo, Genene, Peter - I'm so sorry - knowing your family was one of the best memories of my time in Ames and at Macalester. I let mom and dad know...Read More »
16 of 22 | Posted by: Carole Muncy - Rocky Mount, VA

“I always admired Sande for his dedication to principles and his incredibly hard work for good causes. He is a great example of a generation of solid...Read More »
17 of 22 | Posted by: Steffen Schmidt - Nevada, IA

“I was so sorry to hear of Mr. McNabb's passing. He was my Scout Master in the early 70's and I still have many fond memories of our trips to Yellow...Read More »
18 of 22 | Posted by: Charles Shaver - Arlington, TX

“Thank you Sande (Dr. McNabb) for all that you've done to forward the science and practice of tree pathology. And you will forever remain the Father...Read More »
19 of 22 | Posted by: Jeff Iles - Ames, IA

“Margo, I am so sorry to hear the news from Paxton. Sande touched so many lives and mine is included. He will be dearly missed. Debbie Z. ”
20 of 22 | Posted by: Debbie Zacharias - Winterset, IA

“I have very fond memories of Sande (Mr. McNabb) as my scoutmaster in Troop 158 in the mid 1970's. Sande was a great mentor for young men, and a...Read More »
21 of 22 | Posted by: David Skarshaug - Ames, IA

“Margo; Suzanne, Evan and I are deeply sadden with the news of Sande's passing. I was at the Minnesota State Capitol for a Saturday session when...Read More »
22 of 22 | Posted by: Rick Hansen - South St. Paul, MN


Sande McNabb was born on November 20, 1927 in Lincoln, Nebraska. After he was born, his father said to his wife, "Erma, Sande is here." As a boy, inspired by George Washington Carver, Sande bred irises. Inspired by his uncle Don Nelson he also formed an interest in forestry. After unsuccessfully breeding irises for several years, Sande turned away from horticulture and to forestry, but he never lost the inspiration he drew from George Washington Carver.

Beginning in high school, he started working summers for the US Forest Service in Idaho. He started on a fire tower as a lookout, advancing in future summers to fire chaser and then dispatcher. Sande was the youngest district dispatcher in the US Forest Service.

In 2000, Sande wrote a biographical essay. Here is some of what he wrote.

Margo and Sande met as juniors at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1st year Spanish class in the Fall of 1943. Sande thought she was of Spanish heritage because she was so good in class. Margo sympathized with him because he was an Eagle Scout who wore his uniform to school during Scout Week, her father having been active in Scouting for many years.

They did not date until the end of their senior year in high school. Sande never forgot that first date, a dance sponsored by the three high schools in Lincoln, because in introducing Margo to a close friend his mind went blank. Margo and his friend had known each other for many years so they let him fumble the introduction!

Margo and Sande went steady during their four years at the University of Nebraska, being married the day after graduation, 7 June 1949. Their honeymoon summer was spent in northern Idaho where Sande spent his sixth summer with the US Forest Service in forest district administration and fire control activities.

In early September, they moved to New Haven, Connecticut and Yale University where Sande began graduate studies in Forest Pathology and Plant Physiology in the Botany Department and the Forestry School. Sande held a teaching assistantship, becoming director of the biology teaching assistants his last year. During the summers he was responsible for the decay studies of the Yale University/Office of Naval Research Tropical Wood Project. Son Peter James was born on 1 July 1950 in New Haven. Sande received a M.S. In Plant Science in June 1951 and the Ph.D. in Forest Pathology/Plant Physiology in June 1954.

During the spring of 1952, Dr. Wendell Bragonier, Head of the Botany and Plant Pathology Department at Iowa State College, interviewed another graduate student at Yale for a faculty position. Professor John S. Boyce, Sande's major professor at Yale, suggested that Sande also interview for practice. Surprisingly, in two months, Sande was offered the position with the condition that Iowa State would wait until his research was completed at Yale the following year.

Margo and Sande moved to Ames on the 1st of February 1953 where Sande became Assistant Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology, and Forestry. Thus began a very wonderful and rewarding professional career for Sande at Iowa State University and a joyful home in Ames for the whole family. Their daughter, Genene was born on 12 May 1954. The family moved into a newly built home in north west Ames in September 1956.

Sande became an Emeritus University Professor at the end of January 2000, after 47 years to the day as an active faculty member of Iowa State University. At Iowa State, Sande's research focused on oak wilt, Dutch elm disease and most recently poplar trees. Although retired, Sande continued on campus working with students. In the summer of 2000, he began to mentor high school interns in the Ag. Minority Internship Program.

Margo's and Sande's activities through their lives have been associated with young people and politics. Sande was a Scoutmaster for 25 years of the G. B. MacDonald Memorial Troop 158. He took his troop to the Valley Forge National Jamboree in 1957, the Grand Tetons National Park in 1963, to a National Jamboree in Colorado Springs, Colorado and a European camping trip in 1973. He and Margo served as sponsors for the Junior High Fellowship in the 1960's and early 70's at the Collegiate Presbyterian Church. Sande was an elected member of the School Board of the Ames Community School District from 1963 to 1972.

Much of Sande's work with young people centered around his activities at Iowa State. He was faculty adviser to the undergraduate Botany Club for five years. He helped initiate the annual Botany Club lectures and increased student interest in the Botany Club's VEISHEA exhibit. He was a regular evaluator for the North Central Association for high school biology programs. While at Iowa State and following his retirement, Sande was deeply involved in promoting the State of Iowa High School Science Fair. Sande served as a judge, meeting many students he would later mentor at Iowa State.

One reason that Iowa State originally interested Sande was the Botany department's interest in bringing undergraduate and high school students as interns into their research projects. During his 47 years as an active researcher, Sande always had at least one high school student summer intern and usually undergraduate interns. He was active in giving programs in high school science classes around the state. Sande served on college and departmental curriculum and advising committees. When the Faculty Senate was organized in the late 1980's, Sande was elected to be the Department of Plant Pathology representative. During his six years on the Senate he served on the Academic Affairs Council. He was secretary the first year and chair for the next three. From 1993 to 1994 he was President of the Faculty Senate.

Sande and Margo came to Ames as Republicans. Sande had even been active in Scientists for Eisenhower at Yale. In 1964, Sande and Margo switched to the Democratic Party. They increased their activity in politics because of Harold E. Hughes. Sande was on

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