CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — Many people are remembering a professor whose love of learning expanded far outside of the classroom. Dr. Doug Parrett from the University of Illinois dedicated his life to cattle and his students. 

He was a beef production professor for 49 years at the U of I. He was still teaching in the classroom until last Friday before passing away unexpectedly. 

Students and friends said he was a friend to many. Hanna Garrison had him as a freshman and said Dr. Parrett helped her when she felt homesick.

Dan Shike got to know him while in graduate school at U of I, and years later, they ended up teaching a course together as well. 

“You knew that he cared and wanted to hear your story. He wanted to help you out,” Shike said. 

He added that he knew of him when he was a young boy and considered him an icon in the beef and cattle industry. 

Shike said Dr. Parrett taught one of the introductory animal science classes at U of I. 

“He was kind of the first face and the first name that our freshman got to know and he was such a great fit for that because he wasn’t just a beef cattle person, he knew about all species,” Shike said. 

Garrison was in that class and said she always looked forward to the days she could see him. 

“He always had a story or a lesson behind it that you could take away,” she said. 

His passion for cattle eventually grew around the world. Dr. Parrett was also a livestock judging coach. Shike said he was a household name in Australia. 

“He went there a few times to judge and actually after his first visit there, they set up a scholarship with Angus Australia,” he said. “They sent a student to the University of Illinois every semester since then and they got to be part of our classes and part of our judging teams. That’s because of the program that he set up after his first visit there.”

Dr. Parrett not only judged and researched cattle, but Garrison described him as a foodie as well. 

“I remember he was always so passionate about steaks,” she said. Garrison added that he told stories about trying various steaks at different restaurants and always ordering medium rare. 

But, Shike said, overall, he just loved the classroom. 

Dr. Parrett’s visitation is Sept. 6 at the Stock Pavillion on the U of I campus. His family said memorials can be directed to the University of Illinois Foundation under his name. Include “Dr. Doug Parrett Memorial Fund” in the “other” field of the giving form.