1984 Honorary Life Member Selections


Ray H. Carter was born in Washburn, Maine on January 22, 1902. His primary and secondary education was received in the Washburn school system. He earned his B.S. Degree in Agronomy at the University of Maine in June 1924.

Mr. Carter taught vocational agriculture of 13 years at Fort Fairfield High School where he trained many Aroostook County boys in the art of roguing potatoes. He also coached tennis and basketball, and developed a very active Future Farmers of America Chapter.

Mr. Carter retired from teaching in 1937 and joined a very large (1200-acre) potato seed producing firm located in Washburn, Maine. He was one of the early exhibitors of Maine seed potatoes at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, a practice which his son continues. In 1938, he entered into a partnership to grow tuber unit seed. This partnership terminated in 1944 and the “Carter Seed Farm was founded. In 1966, his son, James, joined his father in the seed business. Ray retired from farming in 1968, but still does his share of roguing for his son, James.

Mr. Carter was interested in new varieties, production of virus free seed stocks, and a great salesman for Maine certified and foundation seed. Ray was also very active in soil conservation, serving as State President, and Supervisor and Director of the Central Aroostook Soil Conservation District.

Mr. Carter, as an early member of the Maine Potato Council, served on the board of directors and as Vice-President in 1954 before resigning because of a heart attack. Mr. Carter was also active in several civic organizations, his local church, and the local school board. He has been a long time member of The Potato Association of America.

Because of Mr. Carter’s influence on so many young men who are now successful potato growers; and because of his many contributions to improve potato culture, The Potato Association of America is pleased to bestow on Mr. Ray H. Carter, Honorary Life Membership.

Paul J. Eastman, Nominator


Thomas E. Houghton, Jr. (Tom), a “par excellence” potato seed producer for 38 years, was born on December 4, 1915. His formative years were spent on the family seed potato farm near Fort Fairfield, Maine. He received his primary and secondary education in the Fort Fairfield school system, then enrolled in the College of Agriculture, University of Maine at Orono. In 1937 he received his B.S. in Agronomy and was employed by the University of Maine’s Agricultural Extension Service for the next 3-1/2 years. During this period, Tom married Antora (Tori) Rosen of New Sweden, Maine. They have 2 daughters, Patricia and Bonnie, 2 sons, Thomas, III (Tim), and John, and 6 grandchildren.

Tom did a tour of 41/2 years in the Armed Services (Infantry) during World War II, much of it in the South Pacific Theatre. The quality of his leadership in that effort earned him successive promotions through the rank of major.

In 1946, Tom joined the family farm, T. Houghton and Sons, Fort Fairfield, Maine, as a partner to expand the farm’s foundation and certified potato seed production and sales capability. Tom’s initial assignment was the production of foundation seed on the farm’s facility near Fort Kent, Maine. In succeeding years, the farm continued to expand its seed production and storage facilities, largely because of an earned reputation over the years of delivering to all customers certified seed potatoes of exceptional high quality. Upon the death of his father in 1967, Tom individually managed the farm’s operations, including sales, until 1969. That year he brought his sons Tim and John into the farm and incorporated it into Houghton Farms, Inc. Houghton Farms, Inc., continued to expand both its production and storage facilities and its sales operations under Tom’s leadership.

In 1980 Tom “retired” but remained associated with the farm as a consultant, primarily in customer relations. Tom resides in Fort Fairfield, Maine, during the summer and in St. Augustine, Florida, during the winter. Beginning with his return to T. Houghton and Sons in 1946, Tom has had an intense interest in new potato varieties and innovative approaches to cultural and storage practices and equipment, which would enable him to supply an improved product to his customers. He has worked closely with the Maine Extension Service, State Department of Agriculture, Experiment Station, and industry personnel to be immediately current on all facets of foundation and certified seed production and storage practices. Tom was among the first to use the chemical Mertect successfully to minimize tuber rot in storage and to participate in the Blitecast and other new programs in Maine.

Tom had a vibrant and continuing interest in new, improved potato varieties and incurred considerable expense while participating in their development. He worked very closely with all potato breeding programs in the Eastern United States, particularly, with those in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and the USDA. Following their release and for a time, Houghton Farms, Inc., was the sole foundation seed source of varieties such as Penchip, Penn 71, Buckskin, Atlantic, Belchip, Chipbelle, BelRus, and others. Tom’s services and counsel have been sought in State and local
agricultural affairs. He served for 8 years on the Maine Potato Commission and has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad for 10 years. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Fort Fairfield Hospital.

Tom’s innovative and aggressive approach to continuous improvement in the quality of seed potatoes produced and delivered to customers over the years earned him the accolade, “Tom is one of the best farmers in Aroostook County and Houghton Farms, Inc., is among the top five seed producers in the county and perhaps the nation,” from Winthrop E. Libby, former Dean of the College of Agriculture and past President of the University of Maine. Tom is very widely known throughout the potato industry for his seed merchandizing integrity.

Because of Tom’s long-term interest and numerous contributions to improving the quality of potato seed underpinning the commercial industry, particularly, in the Eastern United States, we are pleased to present Mr. Thomas E. Houghton, Jr., for Honorary Life Membership in The Potato Association of America.

Raymon E. Webb, Nominator


Hugh J. Murphy, born in Fort Fairfield, Maine, on the family farmstead July 26, 1920, was raised on that farm and graduated from the local high school in 1937, having received the American Farmer Degree of the Future Farmers in 1935. He entered the College of Agriculture at the University of Maine, leaving there at the end of his junior year to work for two years in aircraft engine testing before serving in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War II. In 1942, he was married to Eleanor Ploof of Vermont, and three children–Jennifer, Stephanie, and Andrew–eventually blessed this union.

Upon termination of his military service, Hugh operated the family potato farm for two years prior to continuing his studies at the university. Completing his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agronomy in 1948 and 1950, Hugh then joined the staff of the University’s Agronomy Department (now Plant and Soil Sciences). He channeled his farming interests into home gardening and lawn care while professionally being first assigned to canning crops. However, the teaching of and research with the potato have generally been foremost in Hugh’s interest and endeavors. He and his work are well known and have been recognized in the area of sweet corn, snap beans, field peas, and oilseed crops; and he has proceeded to earn an international reputation for his contribution and expertise with the potato in crop production, cultural management, post harvest physiology, and nutrition as well as with herbicides, potato variety development, and fertilization.

Writing for both technical and applied audiences, Murphy has been author or coauthor of over 220 publications, working with other researchers as well as with farmers, well serving the potato industry. Over 36 graduate students have also had the benefit of Hugh’s counsel and direction as teacher and advisor. Hugh is or has been active in at least 14 professional societies or organizations, receiving from the Northeastern Weed Science Society its Award of Merit in 1981 and its Distinguished Member Award in 1982. Murphy’s prime dedication among organizations has been to The Potato Association of America. He served on or chaired various PAA committees and ad hoc committees during his 29 years of membership, and served
as Secretary of The Association for the fiscal years 1970-80, a time when The Association was undergoing various changes and growth, providing a stable and knowledgeable component and leadership for an ongoing organization with an annually changing executive committee. As program chairman during the same period of time, Hugh’s punctuality, orderliness, common sense, and involved concern resulted in annual Association meetings that maximized benefits to those attending.

At the Annual Meeting of 1980, Murphy was elected Vice President of The Association and served as President in fiscal 1983. For 1984, while serving the duties of Past President, Hugh has been a prime mover for the Local Arrangements Committee for the Annual Meeting in Presque Isle.

Hugh J. Murphy, as a dedicated teacher, a diligent and internationally respected scientist, a devoted and productive member and officer of this organization, has been elected an Honorary Life Member of The Potato Association of America in recognition of his meritorious contributions to the potato industry and to this organization, and we are pleased to make this presentation to him here in his home territory, Aroostook County, Maine.

Edward F. Johnston, Nominator


Robert L. Plaisted was born in Hornell, New York, on January 1, 1929. He grew up in a dairy farm near Canisteo, a small town in western New York. In high school he took vocational agriculture and was active in the Future Farmers of America. Graduating valedictorian of his class in 1946, he was encouraged to apply to Cornell University by his Vo-Ag teacher and was directed specifically toward plant breeding. His advisor encouraged him further, giving him part-time work in vegetable breeding, and thus his career was set. He graduated with distinction in 1950 with a major in plant breeding.

In 1951, Bob married Ellen Overbaugh, also a Cornell graduate, who had majored in Institutional Management in what was then the College of Home Economics. They raised four children, one boy and three girls, and are now happy grandparents of a grandson.

In 1951, Bob also started graduate work at the University of California-Davis. However, the Army interrupted his education and he spent most of the next 21 months in Korea with the 55th Quartermaster Depot Company of the U.S. Army. After being released from the Army, he was admitted to Iowa State University, where he held a research assistantship in the onion breeding program. He earned a M.S. degree in 1954 and a Ph.D. in 1956, both in the field of plant breeding.

Upon completion of graduate studies, he returned to Cornell to take over the potato breeding project and to begin an ornamentals breeding program. However, he soon found his interests in potato breeding superseding his interest in ornamentals. When he became department chairman in 1964, he elected to drop ornamentals and devote his energies exclusively to the potato breeding project. He continued to serve as department chairman of Plant Breeding and Biometry until 1979, when he stepped down to intensify his efforts in potato breeding.

Bob has focused his entire career on breeding improved potato varieties that are resistant to the golden nematode (GN) Globodera rostochiensis. While his first release in 1967, Bake King, is not GN resistant, it is a baking variety of exceptional culinary quality. Hudson, a variety with GN resistance, followed in 1972 and then Rosa in 1980. Rosa is unique in that it is the first sub-species hybrid of Solanum andigenum and Solanum tuberosurn to be released in the United States. This year Hampton, a GN-resistant variety similar to Katahdin, will be released.

He has devoted twenty years to a program of selection within Andean tetraploid cultivated varieties to produce clones adapted to the northern United States while simultaneously retaining the disease resistance of Andean varieties. He is also developing tetraploid clones with glandular trichomes, or sticky hairs, which provide biological control of small insects. Bob has developed good rapport with New York potato growers, who take his most promising selections and evaluate them through a breeder-grower test program. New York State has a wide range of climatic and soil conditions so that all breeding selections must be tested in numerous locations.

Over the past 25 years, Bob has taught plant breeding to innumerable students, and trained many graduate students, both from the United States and foreign countries, in the art and science of potato breeding. Bob has been very active in The Potato Association of America. From 1966 to the present he has been a member of the Editorial Board and Breeding and Genetics Section. He served as Secretary from 1967-69, Vice-President in 1969-70, President-elect in 1970-71, and President in 1971-72. He currently serves on the Technical Committee of the IR-1 potato introduction project and is USAID Technical Liaison Officer to CIP.

Earlier this year the New York State Agricultural Society honored Bob with their Distinguished Service Citation for outstanding contributions to New York Agriculture. More recently, he was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the United States Department of Agriculture for outstanding cooperation in the golden nematode program which has “significantly contributed toward efforts to prevent the spread of the golden nematode in the United States.” He is a member of Alpha Zeta, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and Gamma Sigma Delta.

For his dedication and devotion to potato breeding, his work for The Potato Association of America, and his many accomplishments and contributions to the potato industry, I am pleased and honored to present ROBERT L. PLAISTED for Honorary Life Membership in The Potato Association of America.

Edward D. Jones, Nominator