Winthrop E. Stone

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Winthrop E. Stone
... Debris (1902) (14804160913).jpg
Winthrop Stone, 1902
President of Purdue University
In office
Preceded by James H. Smart
Succeeded by Henry W. Marshall
Personal details
Born (1862-06-12)June 12, 1862
Chesterfield, New Hampshire
Died July 17, 1921(1921-07-17) (aged 59)
Eon Mountain, Canada
Winthrop E Stone.jpg

Winthrop Ellsworth Stone (June 12, 1862 – July 17, 1921) was a professor of chemistry and served as the president of Purdue University from 1900–1921.


Born in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, to Frederick L. Stone and Ann Butler, he was the older brother of Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone.

He moved to Amherst, Massachusetts in 1874, and attended Amherst High School and Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts Amherst), where he received his bachelor's degree in 1882.

Stone studied chemistry and biology at Boston University, while also serving as assistant chemist to the Massachusetts State Agricultural Experiment Station from 1884–1886. He then studied at the University of Göttingen, receiving his Ph.D. there in 1888. From 1888 to 1889, he was chemist to the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station. In 1889 he joined Purdue University as a Professor of Chemistry, and conducted research in the chemistry of carbohydrates. After serving as Purdue's first vice president from 1892–1900, he became president of the university upon the death of James Henry Smart in 1900. During Stone's tenure, Purdue's schools of agriculture and engineering grew rapidly. President Stone was present at one of Purdue's worst tragedies, the Purdue Wreck train collision in 1903, tending to those who were injured or dying.

Stone married his first wife Victoria Heitmueller of Göttingen in 1889 and they had two children, David Frederick Stone (1890–1987) and Richard Stone. Victoria abandoned the family in 1907, travelling overseas to join a religious cult.[1]

Stone and his second wife Margaret Winter (married in 1912) enjoyed mountaineering and climbed extensively in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirks. On July 17, 1921, Stone fell to his death from the summit of Eon Mountain shortly after completing the peak's first ascent.[2][3] Stone's death resulted in the first life insurance payout from the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association.[4]


  1. ^ "India Cult Causes Divorce". The New York Times. 1911-06-20. President Stone confirmed a report that his wife had withdrawn from the world, including separation from her husband and family, to pursue a mystic teaching of India known as the philosophy of Yoga. He and his two sons are heartbroken, and would eagerly have welcomed her back, but are unable to reach her. 
  2. ^ "Dr. W. E. Stone Dies in Mountain Slide. Wife of President of Purdue University, Who Accompanied, Him, Found Alive. Missing Since July, 15 Searchers Had Been Scouring Mount Assiniboin in Search of Them. Woman Found in Crevice". New York Times. July 27, 1921. Retrieved 2008-08-09. The body of Dr. Winthrop E. Stone, President of Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind., who disappeared with his wife on July 15 from a walking tour camp at the foot of Mount Assiniboin, has been found at the bottom of a very deep precipice. ... 
  3. ^ "Eon Mountain". 
  4. ^ Greenough, William C. (1990). It's My Retirement Money -- Take Good Care of It: The TIAA-CREF Story. Irwin. p. 38. How quickly did TIAA start to fulfill its ultimate purpose of providing benefits? Very quickly, and more dramatically than one would guess! The first death among insurance policyholders was that of President Winthrop E. Stone of Purdue University, who lost his life while mountain climbing in July 1921.