McIlraith Family

McIlraith Family

Stuart and Lorraine McIlraith were born and raised in California, but La Crosse became their home where they raised a family. Stuart and Lorraine were married in 1960. Stuart taught in the biology department at UWL from 1962 until his retirement in 1995. Lorraine was active in the community and campus organizations. Stuart was tragically killed in a plane crash in 2003. Lorraine continued to support the McIlraith family scholarships and has attended many scholarship events over the years. She truly enjoyed meeting her student recipients.

Here is some background on Stuart: He attended the University of California-Berkley and received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Iowa. He then received his master of science degree in zoology from the University of Iowa and his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. He was a member of the university’s first faculty senate and also served additional terms as well as holding memberships in professional, scientific, and aviation organizations. In addition, he also served as a member of the UWL Foundation Board of Directors. Stuart served with the U.S. Army during the Korean War and held the rank of major in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. He taught ground school to CAP cadets in preparation for flying lessons and participated in search and rescue missions and other squadron activities.

Stuart held a private pilot license and a commercial pilot rating and had begun work on an instructor’s license. He and his brother Terry enjoyed their time together in their amphibious airplane venture. He was a member of the La Crosse Airport Commission, the Sierra Club, First Presbyterian Church of La Crosse, where he was ordained an elder, and participated in various activities. He was a bagpiper with the La Crosse and District Pipes and Drums, and also taught piping. He visited Scotland several times. Stuart was a gentleman of high moral character. He took great pride in his family, delighting especially in the children. Stuart and his brother Terry were killed when their amphibious aircraft crashed near Tomah on Saturday, July 5, 2003.

Stuart and Lorraine established the following scholarships:

  • The Stuart Morton McIlraith Scholarships I and II. One scholarship is for an incoming freshman and one for a continuing student.
  • The Kirk Louis McIlraith Scholarship in Geography is in honor of their son Kirk, who graduated from UWL in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in geography
  • The Thomas Baird McIlraith Scholarship in English was established in 1989 and is in honor of their son Thomas, who is a physician in California.
  • The Eric Stuart McIlraith Scholarship is in memory of their son who passed away in 1988 at the age of 25. Eric was also an alum of UWL with majors in chemistry and math.


UWL is grateful that Stuart and Lorraine had the foresight to establish endowment funds. The legacy of the McIlraith family is to support students at UWL for generations to come.