Posts Tagged: obituary
During his 15 years at Kearney, Jensen identified recent agricultural science graduates and hired them as staff research associates to work with him in the field and in his lab. He trained them on the most recent plant science research techniques, imparting skills for future careers as farm advisors.
UC Cooperative Extension advisors that worked with Jensen include George Leavitt, retired UCCE advisor in Madera County, viticulture; Harry Andris, retired UCCE advisor in Fresno County, tree crops; Bob Beede, UCCE advisor in Kings County, tree crops; Larry Bettiga, UCCE advisor in Monterey County, viticulture; Rhonda Smith, UCCE advisor in Sonoma County, viticulture; and Mary Bianchi, UCCE advisor in San Luis Obispo County, horticulture.
“Jensen was soft-spoken, had a good sense of humor and honest to a fault,” said Fred Swanson, the former director of Kearney. “He was an outstanding researcher, an accomplished photographer and has made a greater impact than anyone I’ve known by investing himself in other people.”
Jenson was raised on a farm in Weedpatch, Kern County. He earned a bachelor’s degree in soil science at UC Berkeley in 1942, then served for three years in the U.S. Army. He later earned a master’s degree in horticulture from UC Davis.
In 1947, Jensen was hired as an assistant farm advisor by UC Cooperative Extension in Tulare County at a salary of $3,600 per year. In 1972 he was promoted to viticulture specialist at Kearney.
As both a farm advisor and specialist, he worked to develop and obtain registration for commercial products to benefit the state’s grape growers, such as plant growth regulators and many other critical agricultural chemicals. Jensen’s detailed research on gibberellic acid applications helped identify optimal rates and timing that had eluded previous UC researchers. His work on bloom time applications have become an industry standard. Jensen also did the initial work on ethephon, a plant growth regulator used to enhance and improve fruit color. Jensen developed the use of ethephon to enhance raisin maturity, which almost eliminated the loss of raisin crops from early rains.
Jensen researched cultivar selection, vine spacing, trellising and integrated pest management. An early promoter of IPM practices, his contributions were instrumental in production of the UC Grape Pest Management Manual. He was the author or co-author of more than 250 publications and his scientific work is referenced in textbooks, journals and other viticulture publications. Jensen was a longtime editor of the scientific journal American Enology and Viticulture and was a world authority on table grape production.
Jensen retired from UC Cooperative Extension in 1987, but continued to conduct research and extension work for decades as an emeritus viticulture specialist and private viticulture consultant. In honor of his life-long body of work, Jensen received the Merit Award from the American Society for Enology and Viticulture in 2001. He was recognized for his contributions to California’s table grape industry at the 6th International Table Grape Symposium in 2010.
Jensen is survived by his wife of 27 years, Thelma Lile Essex, two daughters, three step-children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. April 28 at Quail Park Retirement Village, 5420 W. Cypress Ave., Visalia, Calif.
Namesake of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s postharvest center, F. Gordon Mitchell, died in February. He was 88.
Mr. Mitchell began his distinguished career with the University of California Cooperative Extension immediately following graduation from college in 1949. He was the viticulture advisor in San Joaquin County for eight years before taking a position as statewide pomology specialist at UC Davis in 1957.
During his career, Mr. Mitchell’s work resulted in an industry-wide change to rapid cooling methods, the improvement in fruit packing efficiency, and greater understanding among farmers about the requirements of produce during the postharvest time period. He worked primarily on plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries, pears, strawberries, applies and kiwifruit, however, during his 42-year career conducted research on virtually all pomological commodities.
Mr. Mitchell retired in 1991. When Dinuba farmer/packer LeRoy Giannini contributed funds to build the new postharvest laboratory at Kearney, he suggested naming the building after Mr. Mitchell. On Feb. 8, 1993, the facility was christened the F. Gordon Mitchell Postharvest center.
Emeritus UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jim Thompson of the UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering said Mr. Mitchell worked tirelessly with the California agriculture industry to improve the market for the state’s fresh fruits and tree nuts.
“He developed the early concepts and standards for handling California Granny Smith and Fuji apples, kiwifruit, and pistachio nuts,” Thompson said. “When the tree fruit industry had questions about postharvest issues, their first phone call was to Gordon."
UC Cooperative Extension postharvest horticulturist Mary Lu Arpaia, who is based at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, counts Mr. Mitchell as a mentor and guidepost for her career.
“Sometimes the best things in life that happen to you are unplanned,” Arpaia said about taking a job in the UC Davis postharvest lab when she was a graduate student. “That job was with Gordon and that was serendipity. When I think back on that one event I know it was one of the most important events in my graduate career and subsequent adventures in life.”
Arpaia said Mr. Mitchell’s work with his colleagues with forced air cooling and packaging established him to be a leader, “albeit a soft spoken one,” in the field of postharvest handling.
Mr. Mitchell was a Davis resident for 55 years. The family obituary described him as a gentle and devoted soul who took great pride in his faith, family and career. Mr. Mitchell is survived by his sister, two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren.
Gordon Mitchell (left) with post harvest scientist Carlos Crisosto in front of the F. Gordon Mitchell Postharvest Center at Kearney.
Richard "Dick" Rice passed away on Dec. 24, 2011, at the age of 74. Dr. Rice was a UC Davis entomologist who worked at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center for 33 years.
Dr. Rice was raised and spent much of his career in the Central Valley. He attended Sultana Grammar School, Dinuba High School and a semester at Reedley Jr. College before going on to UC Davis in 1956. There he earned his bachelor's degree in 1960 and master's degree in 1961 before serving two years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist. He earned his Ph.D. in insect ecology and agricultural entomology at UC Davis in 1967.
Dr. Rice's specialty became pest management in tree fruit and nut crops. He worked closely with the tree fruit and nut industries in the Central Valley on a number of significant insect and mite pests over his career, becoming especially noted for his research on trapping and monitoring systems for San Jose scale, peach twig borer, navel orangeworm, oriental fruit moth, codling moth, omnivorous leafroller, and a number of Hemipterans attacking pistachios and almonds.
UC Davis entomology professor Frank Zalom said Dr. Rice's research helped make the producers of California fruit and nut crops dominant in world markets today.
"His contributions cannot be overstated," Zalom said. "He was an early innovator in using management approaches to regulatory and quarantine entomology, focusing on developing acceptable programs for exporting California's fruit to other countries through cultural management and monitoring while minimizing the use of disruptive and environmentally harsh interventions."
Dr. Rice was an active member of the Entomological Society of America. He served as President of the Pacific Branch and Secretary-Treasurer for three years.
Dr. Rice was born in Dinuba on Sept. 5, 1937, to F. Edwin and Eleanor Rice. He served on the USDA/CDFA Medfly Science Advisory Panel, and on science advisory committees for the California avocado, citrus, stone fruit, nut and olive industries. Upon his retirement in 2001, he received the status of entomologist emeritus at UC Davis and remained active professionally as a consultant to several agricultural industry commissions.
Dr. Rice was a long-time member of the First Presbyterian Church of Dinuba, Dinuba Lions Club and the Kings River Golf & Country Club.
Dr. Rice was preceded in death by his parents; and his sisters, Joanne DeWitt and Barbara Rice. Dick is survived by his wife of 20 years, Carol; his son Kevin of Truckee; his daughters, Kim Lindell and husband Chris of Mancos, Co., and Kari Bettencourt of Sonoma; sister, Bette George and husband Steve of Sultana; and step-children, Scott Lewis and wife Renata, and Cari Hager and husband Edward; and grandchildren, Samantha and Cameron Rice and Corey Lewis.
As a tribute to Dr. Rice, donations may be made to the Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers, P.O. Box 26, Kingsburg, CA 93631; Alta District Historical Society, P. O. Box 254, Dinuba, CA 93618 and Nancy Hinds Hospice, 1616 W. Shaw, Ste C-1, Fresno, CA 93711.
(From the family obituary and other reports.)
Having grown up working in his parents' vineyard, Peter became an internationally renowned viticulture scientist, and was widely considered the world's leading authority on grapevine nutrition and fertility management. He received his BS in Viticulture from California State University, Fresno, in 1956, followed by an MS in Viticulture from the University of California, Davis, in 1959.
Following his graduation from UC Davis, he joined UC Cooperative Extension as a farm advisor in Fresno County, where he spent 23 years working with the local grape industries. In 1984 he advanced to the position of viticulture specialist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, stationed at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, where he retired in 1999. Working closely with colleagues in academia and industry, he conducted practical research on a broad range of topics. Much of this work had immediate and long-lasting impact. For example, the mineral nutrition and diagnostic and fertilizer recommendations for California vineyards are largely based on his research and extension activities. He authored or co-authored over 250 technical papers and research articles during his career, including several seminal publications on grapevine nutrition and the statewide UC production manuals on raisin production, wine grape varieties and grape pest and disease management. He received the Best Research Paper Award from the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture in 1986 and 1990, and also served as the President of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture in 1991-1992. In 1997 he was presented the James H. Meyer Outstanding Career Achievement Award from UC Davis, and in 2004 he was given the Merit Award of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture. The latter is the highest honor given to a grape research scientist in the U.S. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the California raisin industry, the newly developed raisin grape variety "Selma Pete" was named in his honor in 2002.
In addition to his outstanding research contributions, Peter was a gifted, thoughtful and generous extension educator and mentor to young scientists. He presented hundreds of technical talks to Central Valley grape growers, and also trained many UC Farm Advisors during his career. His impact extended far beyond California, and he visited many different countries on sabbatical leaves and technical trips, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Greece, Italy, Chile, Mexico, Japan, Canada, Uzbekistan and 11 States in the USA.
Peter is remembered by his family, friends and colleagues, and by grape growers throughout the Central Valley and beyond, for his unfailing readiness to help and serve, for his humility, and for his good nature and sense of humor. He was a faithful member of the St. Peter the Apostle Serbian Orthodox Church in Fresno, where he was actively involved in the landscaping and maintenance of the church property. For many years he farmed the family vineyards that he inherited along with his sister. His interests included traveling, writing, cooking (including gourmet meals), gardening, boating, fishing and scuba diving. Family closeness was very important to him, and he frequently arranged family get-togethers and vacations in various parts of the state and in countries throughout the world. After a battle with cancer, he ended his earthly life with his characteristic positive attitude, saying that he could not have asked for anything more in life, that he had no complaints, and that he was deeply thankful to God for everything. In the meaningful time leading up to his passing, he received an outpouring of love from his family and from many others whose lives he had touched, and to whom he had always been a selfless servant.
Peter is preceded by John L. Christensen and Florence M. (née Andersen) Christensen.
He is survived by his wife, Eleanor; his sons, John (Fr. Damascene), Robert and Scott; his daughters-in-law, Bonnie and Lorraine; his grandchildren, Jonathan, Emily and Melina; his sister, Jane Hildebrand; and his godparents, Ron and Radmila Tarailo.
Contributions in Peter's name may be sent to the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery, P.O. Box 70, Platina, Ca, 96076.