Issue 10, June 25, 2010

Malcolm C. Shurtleff

Malcolm C. Shurtleff, former author of this newsletter and many University of Illinois Extension publications, died on May 29, 2010 in Pearland Texas. He was almost 88 years of age at the time of death. He died after a short illness. Mal served as a Merchant Marine during World War II. He grew up in Rhode Island and was an assistant extension professor of plant pathology at the University of Rhode Island for four years. In 1954, he became an associate professor of plant pathology at Iowa State University before moving to the University of Illinois in 1961 as an extension professor of plant pathology. He entered mandatory retirement in 1992, but continued to remain active in plant pathology for many years after that.

Mal was a prolific writer. While an associate professor at Iowa State, he wrote the book, How to Control Plant Diseases, printed by Iowa State University Press in Ames Iowa. This book is still used by many pathologists and extension people around the world. Shurtleff also coauthored the three editions of Controlling Turfgrass Pests – a Reston Book by Prentice-Hall Inc., New Jersey. This book is used in turf courses at the University of Illinois as well as other colleges and universities. Among other books he wrote or co-authored are The Plant Disease Clinic and Field Diagnosis of Abiotic Diseases and Diagnosing Plant Diseases Caused by Nematodes. At the time of his death, Mal was working on a web publication with Charles W. Averre III of North Carolina State University. Malcolm's daughter is hoping to complete the work necessary for this publication to become a free web publication. These are just several of the 1,650+ publications, books, compendia, bulletins and articles he wrote during his life. While at the University of Illinois, he wrote, edited, or co-authored most of the Report on Plant Disease (RPD's) fact sheets. With some revisions, they are still used today.

He was an active member of the American Phytopathological Society. He served as the editor of the Compendium of Corn Diseases, which was the first publication printed by APS Press; and Mal was the first editor of Phytopathology News. He was also selected as the first chairman of the Extension Committee of the International Society of Plant Pathology. Mal was honored with many awards. As with being first with several publications, he was also the first Extension Plant Pathologist to be elected a Fellow of APS (1971). He was the only extension specialist recognized with the Adventures in Agricultural Science Award of Distinction (1979). Shurtleff received the prestigious USDA Distinguished Service Award in 1986, the first plant pathology extension specialist to ever receive that honor. Another first was Shurtleff being selected a Senior University Scholar by the University of Illinois Foundation in 1987. The University of Illinois awarded Mal with the Paul A. Funk Award for excellence in service to agriculture (1975). Illinois State Senate resolution No. 176 honored Drs. Shurtleff and Hooker during the southern leaf blight epidemic of 1970-1971. Shurtleff was awarded the E.C. Stakman Award of October 27, 1999, by the Department of Plant Pathology of the University of Minnesota.

Off campus students may have taken one of the disease classes he taught in various locations around the state. Even though I already had my Masters of Science degree in Plant Pathology, I had the honor of auditing one of the classes Mal taught in Oakbrook. Readers who are still professional horticulturists may have listened to him in the early years of the Pesticide Education Safety Program when it was still called Pesticide Applicator Training (P.A.T.). Additionally, he also taught plant disease information to Master Gardeners when this program was first started in the mid 70's in Illinois.

Malcolm Shurtleff loved plant pathology. He wrote about various diseases as part of his job and on his own time as a way to relax. Many did not know that Mal also loved amateur art. He was a behind the scene supporter.

Shurtleff is survived by his wife, a brother, a sister, three children, three stepchildren, three grandchildren and six stepgrandchildren.

For those who would like to make a donation in his name, you may send a contribution to the American Phytopathological Society Foundation, Malcolm C. Shurtleff Student Travel Award or to the American Cancer Society.--Jim Schuster, Extension Specialist, PSEP-Plant Pathology

Jim Schuster

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