School 34

Conrad Alan Istock

August 31, 1936 ~ March 8, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Conrad Istock Obituary

Conrad Alan Istock, 86, accomplished researcher, beloved professor and mentor, and loving husband and father died peacefully at Kendal of Ithaca on March 8, 2023.  He was born on August 31, 1936 to Mildred Walke Istock and Conrad Anthony Istock of Grosse Pointe Woods, MI.   He lost both his wife of 59 years Nancy Smith Istock and his daughter, Alice (Kim) Stone to ovarian cancer.  Women, get those checkups!  He is survived by his daughter Anne (Dan) Keys and granddaughters Lydia and Evelyn Keys of Corning, NY, his son-in-law Kim Stone of Tucson, AZ and granddaughter Leanne Stone of Denver, CO, his brother Verne (Judy) Istock of Naples, FL and many nieces and nephews.  He was also predeceased by two of his siblings Marcia (Ben) VanTuyl, and Orville Istock of Michigan. 

Conrad got his PhD in Ecology from the University of Michigan in 1963.  He worked at the University of Rochester (1964-1984) and the University of Arizona in Tucson (1984-1997), where he served as the head of the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) for seven years.  In 1997, Conrad and Nancy moved to Ithaca, where he was an active participant in the EEB department at Cornell University until his death.

He published many articles on ecology and evolution and he was a favorite of undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral students in Rochester, Tucson and Ithaca.  Conrad and Nancy loved entertaining students at their home and excitedly followed the academic careers of those students.

For many summers he taught ecology at the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston, MI.  He met Nancy there when they were students in the 1950s and it became a beloved place for the entire family.  Conrad loved people, his boxer dogs, classical music, playing the violin and swimming every day at the YMCA.  He followed the news religiously, wrote many letters to the editor and wrote novels and children’s stories.  His favorite quote was from e.e. cummings:

“To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best,
night and day, to make you everybody else – means to   
fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and
never stop fighting.”

Conrad donated his body to science.  There is no memorial service planned.  Contributions in memory of Conrad and Nancy may be made to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition ( or Hospicare of Ithaca (

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Bangs Funeral Home, Ithaca, NY. Online condolences may be made to Conrad’s family at

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