Pilar Angeles Garcia was born on November 4, 1926, in Manila, the Philippines. Her father, Gaudencio Garcia, served as a professor of international and political law, and her mother, Maria Paz Angeles Garcia, was a high school biology teacher. She is the second oldest of ten children.
Garcia’s high school education was interrupted by WWII. There is a note she wrote and included in her papers, when describing photographs from her childhood (RS 12/6/53, box 4, folder 2):
All earlier records were destroyed during WWII when our family home burned to the ground.
Pilar Garcia graduated from the University of the Philippines at Manila, in 1949, with a B.S. in pharmacy. During this time she earned the Barbour Scholarship, which sent her to the University of Michigan. One year later she earned the Master of Science degree in botany at the University of Michigan.
Garcia relocated to lowa State College (renamed Iowa State University in 1959), where she completed her studies in nutrition and worked as a graduate assistant. She completed her M.S. in 1952 and her Ph.D. in 1955—her dissertation is titled, “Effects of varying protein and energy value of diets on nitrogen utilization and body composition of adult female rats.”
After she completed the M .S. and Ph.D., in 1952 and 1955 respectively, After receiving her Ph.D., she served as research associate in the Department of Food and Nutrition at Iowa State. During this time she taught Introduction to Food and Nutrition 107 and helped conduct nutritional research projects.
The October 1956 issue of the Iowa Homemaker shared her favorite recipe, chicken-pork adobo:
In 1957, Garcia became an assistant professor at Iowa State and in 1961 she was promoted to associate professor. It was not until 1974 that she was promoted to full professor. Throughout her academic career, Garcia spent her time researching and teaching courses about the effects of nutrition on people, primarily women. In 1978, she took a six-month faculty leave at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos College, Laguna, in order to conduct research on nutritional conditions of the rural, elderly poor. She earned a faculty citation from the lowa State Alumni Association in 1970 and won the Amoco Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award in 1986. Pilar Garcia retired in December 1991. In a letter written by Garcia she stated, in regards to her time at Iowa State, that:
Teaching undergraduate courses and interacting with students gave me the greatest joy and satisfaction
Pilar A. Garcia is recognized with a brick placed in Iowa State’s Plaza of Heroines, which honors more than 3,900 women who have made an impact on individuals, families, communities, and society. In honoring Garcia, Kathy Burk Hanson, Margaret Warren Manatt, and Robin Ann Orr write:
As a mentor Dr. Garcia inspired us to strive for excellence and take pride in performance as she herself has always done. She helped us find ways to exceed our own expectations when confronted with difficult tasks. As a scientist she demonstrated the importance of taking one's work but not oneself seriously. And as a friend Dr. Garcia has shown us how to honor but not dwell in the past; live with grace and integrity in the present; and look forward toward the grand adventure of the future.
Iowa State University offered the Pilar A. Garcia Student Achievement Fund, which supported enrichment opportunities for students.
The Pilar A. Garcia Papers are housed in the Iowa State University Special Collections and University Archives.
Copeland, Margot. “Introducing: Pilar Garcia from Manilla.” The Iowa Homemaker 35, no. 11 (October 1956): 15. https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/homemaker/vol35/iss11/7.
Adapted from a blog post from Cardinal Tales.