OSU college to honor Benton Co. residents as diamond pioneers

October 14, 2005

CORVALLIS - Earl Bates, David Chilcote, JoAnn Hathaway, Richard Morita and Clarence Venell, all of Corvallis, are among the 32 men and women to be honored as 2005 Diamond Pioneers by the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences.

OSU Dean Thayne Dutson will honor the 2005 Diamond Pioneers at a luncheon Thursday, Oct. 20, in the OSU Alumni Center. Guest speaker will be Tammy Bray, dean of the OSU College of Health and Human Sciences.

Bates was Oregon’s advisory agricultural meteorologist at OSU from 1969 until his retirement. Much of his work focused on frost, frost forecasting and fruit frost protective work, particularly the use of wind machines in orchards.

Bates researched wind machines in the Medford area in the mid-1970s and then did pioneering work in atmospheric temperature inversion in The Dalles. In Coos County, he studied microclimates and forecast methods on cranberry bogs to provide growers with information regarding frost peculiarities and methods of combating frost. Melvin Westwood nominated Bates for the registry, OSU professor of horticulture emeritus.

Chilcote, nominated by the OSU crop and soil science department, first joined the OSU staff in 1953. In 1961, he established a new project in crop physiology. His primary research emphasized the physiology of forages and grass seed crops.

Chilcote was recognized for his work by several organizations including the Pacific Seed Association, the Oregon Seed Council and as a Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America.

Hathaway is the fifth generation of her family to farm in Benton County. Since 1959, when her husband Roy succeeded his father on the farm, she has been business manager of farming activities, including managing the picking and marketing of strawberries for 20 years. A past president of the Benton County Farm Bureau, she serves on the Oregon Farm Bureau board. The Hathaways were elected to the Farm Bureau Hall of Fame in 2004.

Hathaway served eight years on the Oregon ASCS (now Farm Service Agency) state committee and also on the Oregon Wheat League board. She helped design the Summer Ag Institute offered jointly for teachers by OSU and the Farm Bureau. The OSU animal sciences department and Benton County Extension staff nominated her for the Diamond Pioneer Registry.

Morita, an environmental microbiologist, focused on the marine environment during his tenure at OSU from 1962, until he retired in 1988. He was the first microbiologist to undertake a systematic study of the deep ocean beyond the continental shelf. He discovered both barophiles (pressure loving) and psychrophiles (cold-loving) bacteria. In 1990, a new genus of bacteria was named Moritella in his honor.

Morita has lectured nationally and internationally. His work has been recognized by scientific organizations in such countries as Denmark, Australia, Japan, Canada and Chile as well as in the United States. The OSU microbiology department nominated him for the registry.

Venell, nominated by the Linn-Benton Chapter of Women for Agriculture, began his farming career while still in high school and a member of the Corvallis high school chapter of the Future Farmers of America. In addition to operating a large grass seed operation, Venell built a pellet mill on his farm in 1970 to use the by-products of grass seeds.

Although past retirement age, Venell takes an active interest in the farm operation that now includes three generations.

The Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Registry honors those 75 years of age and older for their achievements in agriculture, education, science, and organizational leadership. The registry began 22 years ago when the college observed its 75th anniversary.

Others to be honored include Helen Hays and Edwin Rohner, Albany; Dan Warnock, Baker City; John Rosebrook, Beavercreek; Virgil Montecucco, Canby; Dalton Straus, Central Point; Emmett Pryor, Condon; Ken Wulff, Enterprise; Duane Hatch, Eugene; Martha Jane Spratling, Haines; W. Arden Sheets and Connie Sheets, Hillsboro; Mack Birkmaier, Joseph; Donald Sands, La Grande; Glen Christensen, McMinnville; Porter Lombard, Medford; Murray Fretz, Mosier; Mathias Kolding, Pendleton; William Domes, Rickreall; Kenneth Bare and LaBrie Ritchie, Roseburg; Bill Dolan, St. Paul; Genevieve Lindsay and R. Grant Lindsay, Shedd; Paul Dickman, Silverton; William Sandine, Temecula, CA; and Charles Stanger, Jr., Boise, ID.

Author: Len Calvert
Source: Loretta Austin