IN MEMORIAM: John Bruhn, Ed Costantini



John Bruhn: California’s Milkman

Only two years into his career as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in dairy food processing, he found himself the subject of a trade journal cover story headlined, “The Milkman: John Bruhn.”


The story in Western Milk and Ice Cream News advised milk producers and processors: “Much of the information you receive from your county extension agents is developed here [at UC Davis] in the laboratories and translated into useful, practical information by Dr. Bruhn himself.”

He would continue in that role for 37 years, from 1969 until retiring in 2006, having distinguished himself in applied research and education, and earning recognition nationally and internationally.

As a Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, he would continue taking calls from the industry until his death Dec. 18 from congestive heart failure. He was 81.

A native of Ohio, Bruhn graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in food science, then came to UC Davis for graduate study. He earned a Ph.D. in dairy microbiology-biochemistry in 1968 and soon began his career with Cooperative Extension, working out of the Department of Food Science and Technology.

John Bruhn, drinking milk, surrounded by old UC Davis dairy packaging
Bruhn with his favorite beverage, surrounded by UC Davis dairy packaging  for milk, buttermilk, chocolate milk and more, saved from the old Roadhouse Hall (originally the Dairy Industry Building).

He helped in the development and implementation of state and national regulatory policy and worked with many well-known brands in California and nationally on food safety and quality issues. He served as the founding director of the UC Davis Dairy Research and Information Center for 13 years.

He was an elected fellow of four professional organizations: the American Dairy Science Association (and served as its president in 2000), International Association of Food Protection, Institute of Food Technologists, and Institute of Food Science and Technology (United Kingdom). He was the recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Award of Distinction from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 2009.

‘First Quality’

The John C. Bruhn Dairy Foods Scholarship was established in 2009, endowed by industry organizations, including the California Association of Dairy Milk Sanitarians, California Creamery Operators Association and California Dairy Industries Association, and the Bruhn family. The award is given annually to a master's degree student or undergraduate.

"University Farm Creamery Butter" wrapper
“First Quality” University Farm butter wrapper.

Bruhn presented each scholarship with a special gift: a University Farm butter wrapper, framed. Bruhn had saved a stash of the wrappers and other unused packaging from the old Roadhouse Hall (formerly the Dairy Industry Building) before it was torn down. The creamery inside the building had been used to produce butter, ice cream and milk until 1958.

Upon presenting the framed wrappers, Bruhn would take the opportunity to point to the words “First Quality” on the butter label, explaining what they meant to him: first quality students, first quality Department of Food Science and Technology, and first quality university.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Christine, a Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus in consumer foods research; daughter Laura (Roland) Freudrich; son Aron (Ashley) Bruhn; grandchildren Patrick, Peter, Hudson and Skyler; and sister Susan (David) Dirr and their children. He was preceded in death by his brother, Tom.

A celebration of life will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the Lutheran Church of the Incarnation in Davis.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks people to consider contributions to the John C. Bruhn Dairy Foods Scholarship, the Lutheran Church of the Incarnation or a favorite charity.

Ed Costantini: Political scientist

Political scientist Edmond Costantini traced his keen interest in politics and current events to the decade he spent as a youth delivering newspapers in Manhattan, where his customers included future President Dwight D. Eisenhower and activist Eugene Debs.

Ed Costantini in screen shot from video conversation
Ed Costantini

Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, once engaged Costantini in conversation from his driveway in the late 1940s, the former World War II general still dressed in his night shirt.

But what was more life-shaping were the wide array of leftover daily papers — up to a dozen different publications — that Costantini took home and pored over after he finished his route, he wrote in a 2018 letter to a Davis Enterprise columnist. Costantini said that the knowledge he gained from reading papers helped him stand out in school, leading to political internships, campaign work, his graduate studies and his career in political science.

20th-century politics expert

Costantini, professor emeritus of political science who died Jan. 10 at age 89 in Davis, would later become a sought-after news source himself for his expertise on California elections and politics. During his 1964-94 career at UC Davis, he studied an array of topics, many of which remain relevant today. His research, often involving survey or election data analysis, looked at the motivations and personality characteristics of political activists, intraparty conflict, public opinion on environmental issues, public opinion on affirmative action, environmental policy making, libel law, juror prejudice, women and politics, partisan voting, election law and California politics.

He also engaged in the political process — advising campaigns, serving as education secretary to Gov. Edmund “Pat” Brown in 1966, sitting on the executive board of the California Democratic Party and attending national party conventions as a California delegate, including the turbulent 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago.

Helped launch Retiree Center

After retiring, Costantini worked with colleagues and campus leadership to establish the UC Davis Retiree Center to help retired staff and faculty stay connected.

“I think that Ed personified the best qualities of what made UC Davis unique,” said John Vohs, senior lecturer emeritus of communication. “He was not only a respected scholar; he was also a popular teacher as well as a faculty leader in shaping the campus culture. He contributed to that sense of community.”

Costantini joined the UC Davis faculty in 1964 as he was completing his doctoral studies in political science at UC Berkeley. He previously earned a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut and an undergraduate degree from New York University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa.

His wife of 61 years, Agnes “Aggie” Costantini, died in 2018. He is survived by a daughter and grandson, who live in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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