Gordon True was born in Baraboo, Wisconsin. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1894, he served at several western universities in Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada before accepting a position in Davis, California as Professor of Animal Husbandry in 1913. He became Chairman of the Department in 1918.
Professor True was widely known for his work among the livestock men of the State. His great love for all classes of farm animals endeared him to producers everywhere. His keen eye for a good beast, combined with his profound study of pedigrees, was responsible for building up herds and flocks on the University Farm that were among the best in the nation. He laid down policy that the University would never exhibit an animal that it had not bred and raised. With the help of the excellent herdsmen he had selected, top awards were won for the University by beef cattle, sheep, and swine at the Chicago International.
At a time when animals were grass fattened, Gordon True's insight into the future led him to predict that California would one day be one of the leading states in dry-lot fattening of livestock. The prediction caused some bitter controversy but twenty-five years later he was vindicated.
When George Hart was recruited to come to Davis, Gordon True was transferred to Berkeley to teach Animal Husbandry courses there. Interest in showing livestock at Chicago declined as more emphasis was placed on scientific research.
In 1927 Professor True was the "Honored Guest" of the American Society of Animal Production, the highest honor the livestock industry could bestow.