Oct. 2, 2014

Emeritus professor H. David Thurston dies at 87

H. David Thurston
Thurston

H. David Thurston, Cornell professor emeritus of international agriculture and plant pathology, died Sept. 26 after a short illness.

He was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1927. He earned a Ph.D. in plant pathology in 1958 from the University of Minnesota. He worked in Colombia for the Rockefeller Foundation’s plant pathology program and potato program, and later directed plant sciences at the Colombian Agricultural Institute.

Thurston joined the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as a professor in 1967. He trained graduate students to deal with plant disease problems of the tropics and developing countries, and developed and taught a graduate course on plant diseases in tropical agricultural development. He retired in 1996.

“Dave was passionate about the need for western agriculture to be aware of the wisdom and knowledge displayed in many traditional agricultural practices," said Thurston's colleague, professor William Fry. "These practices are used by 'traditiona'” farmers in many locations around the world – but particularly in developing countries. He was also a strong advocate for the idea that the developed world should address the plant disease problems in the developing world. His advocacy is supported by the discovery of a new race of stem rust [UG99] found in Uganda.”

Thurston is survived by his wife, Betty, three sons and grandchildren.

A wake will be held at Bangs Funeral Home, 209 W. Green St., Ithaca, New York, on Oct. 3 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. His funeral will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 149 Honness Lane in Ithaca on Oct. 4 at 11 a.m.

Donations can be made to the H. David Thurston Student Travel Fund (contact Denise Kessler, 651-454-7250, dkessler@scisoc.org) to Trinity Lutheran Church or to Hospicare.