October 5, 2014

Thurston Leaves Behind Career on Plant Diseases

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Prof. Emeritus H. David Thurston, international agriculture and plant pathology, died Sept. 26 following a brief illness. He was 87.

Thurston — who joined the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in July 1967 – trained students to deal with plant disease issues of the tropics and developing countries, according to the University. He also taught a graduate course on plant diseases in tropical agricultural development from 1968 to 1997.

He received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1950 and 1953, respectively, according to his biography. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1958.

Prior to his arrival at Cornell, Thurston was an assistant plant pathologist at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bogota, Colombia and an instructor and research fellow in the department of plant pathology at the University of Minnesota.

Thurston officially retired from Cornell’s faculty in 1996. During his time at the University, he taught eight courses, ranging from topics such as “Agriculture in the Developing Nations” to “Administration of Agriculture and Rural Development.”

According to Thurston’s biography, some of his research interests included tropical plant pathology, potato and cassava diseases and sustainable agriculture. For over 20 years, his secondary area of research was the investigation of potato diseases.

He was chair of the board of directors of the Consortium for International Crop Protection from 1985 to 1990 and chair of the CIIFAD committee on sustainable agriculture from 1990 to 1991, according to his biography.

Thurston’s honors and awards included a fellowship at the American Phytopathological Society and an award of merit at the northeastern division of the APS, among others.

He is survived by his wife, Betty and his three sons and grandchildren, according to the University. His funeral was held Saturday morning at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ithaca.