2004 Honorary Life Member Selections


Born in hillbilly country in Floyd County, Kentucky, Alvin grew up with coal mining, moonshining, and squirrel hunting. After graduating from McDowell High School, his first attempt at an advanced degree fell apart when funds ran out halfway through the first semester. Undeterred, he worked out an anangement at Alice Lloyd College at Pippa Passes, Kentucky and two years later and fifty dollars poorer, received his Associate Degree. With a partial scholarship at the University of Kentucky, Alvin then obtained a B.S. degree in science education followed with an MS. degree in horticulture. A transfer to Oregon State University, support from an NDEA fellowship, and three years resulted in a Ph.D. in horticulture. A “potato head” in the making, he began a career at Ohio State University in Vegetable Research and Extension in 1971.

Accepting a potato research and extension specialist position at Oregon State University in 1978, Alvin guided a fledgling potato commission in developing guidelines to support research, extension, and industry. He continues to extend his expertise and energy to growers in solving production, storage, and marketing issues. Alvin is a fierce supporter of Extension and potato growers and moves forward with the intent to include everyone for the betterment of the potato industry. This broad-based, team-building component of Alvin’s character is demonstrated throughout his efforts in Oregon. With foresight and guidance, Alvin has taken Oregon’s potato selection program from a few hundred selections in 1977 to an elite variety development organization that now views 60,000 to 80,000 potential new cultivars each year. Because of his unselfish promotion of efforts across the state and the people directing those efforts, the Oregon potato program now has an internationally renowned late blight screening program in Corvallis, a selection venture in Klamath Falls focused on red and other specialty varieties, a large, single-hill selection endeavor in Powell Butte coupled with a seed increase program that services the entire western breeding effort, an extensive cultivar production evaluation and disease screening program at Hermiston, and broad production and management trials in Ontario. Alvin also rescued the Oregon Foundation Seed Program, which was under-funded and near closure, in his overall efforts to serve the potato industry. This program now has three greenhouses with the potential to produce 3,000 pounds of pre-nuclear minitubers each year. It also provides pre-nuclear seed, free of charge, to Oregon growers interested in pursuing new varieties.

Dr. Mosley has long been an effective ambassador for all aspects of potatoes and his enthusiasm and commitment to serving people, particularly “potato people” continues. He is adept at bringing people together to solve problems. His efforts were instrumental in bringing Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, as well as the USDAIARS, together as a team for developing potato varieties. In 1986-1987, Alvin worked with Robert Sanders, then, vice-chair of the National Potato Council (NPC) for govenunent relations and Oregon potato grower, to develop a NPC research program. Alvin guided the PAA in as a partner and the combined effort was successful in obtaining ARSKJSDA funding which continues today. For over 20 years he has served as the Western Region technical representative to the NRSP-6 genebank.

Alvin was one of the first to push for the use of electronic dissemination of potato-related information, and with an invite from the PAA Extension Section, he developed an electronic mailing list which has expanded to include all categories of potato professionals. This “PotatoNet” lights up often with expertise opinions concerning problems arising throughout potato-growing areas. Alvin also took on the task of developing a useful potato Website, probably the first of the many sites that now exist. This Potato Information Exchange Website now links to over 4,000 other sites and has become all-inclusive in providing potato information.

Dr. Mosley has long been actively involved in the PA4 serving on many committees and chairing several sections. Many of his useful ideas have been promoted within those sections. He presided over the PAA in 1992, which required commitments as director, vice-president, president-elect, and past-president, and he remains active, serving as chair of the PAA Website Committee and Interim PAAJAJPR Senior Editor for production and management manuscripts. Alvin and his wife, Janet, are in the process of accumulating grandchildren with two under wraps and a third on the way. Auto restoration, wood working, grafting maples, and croquet projects are waiting for attention once full retirement kicks in. However, Alvin indicates that he may have to slowly wean himself from potatoes first.

Alvin’s positive, “can-do” attitude, has continually challenged professionals and industry alike, to try things that we may not have tried without his encouragement.

Dan Hane, Nominator

clip_image002_002DR. MARY POWELSON

Dr. Mary Powelson, a native of Pennsylvania, re­ceived a B.S. degree in biology education at Bloomsburg State College in Pennsylvania in 1963, an M.S. degree in plant pathology at Michigan State University in 1965, and her Ph.D. in plant pathology from Oregon State University in 1972. She served as a research associate at OSU until 1979 when she joined the faculty of the OSU Department of Botany and Plant Pathology as an assistant professor with principal responsibilities for teaching and research in the area of vegetable diseases. She was promoted to associate professor in 1983, attained the rank of professor in 1990, and recently retired as an active member of the OSU faculty in December 2002.

During her career, Dr. Powelson became widely known for her research accomplishments in the area of root and foliar diseases of potatoes and vegetable crops and for her innovative and enthusiastic teaching and mentoring of both under­graduate and graduate students. She is considered among the top potato pathologists in the United States. Her research has been focused on the integration of cultural and chemical tactics to control both single and multiple diseases of potato. She is known for her work on the effects of water-deficit stress on the biology of vascular wilt diseases. Mary and her colleagues showed that yield losses associated with the potato early dying syndrome, Verticillium dahliae and associated pathogens, were closely correlated with high soil moisture in the early stages of plant growth. Dr. Powelson is also known for earlier studies with soft rot Erwinia bacteria. She and her colleagues correctly identified this bacterium as a key component of the early dying syndrome in irrigated potatoes grown in hot, arid environments. It was also demonstrated that inoculum was prevalent in soil and irrigation water as well as in seed tubers and could be transmitted among generations of symptomless progeny.

In the early 1990s as a resurgence of potato late blight became of prime importance, Dr Powelson shifted emphasis into that area. Teaming with colleagues in several states, she provided national leadership in the development of new management practices for this important disease. Together with Dr. Inglis at Washington State University, she coordinated a national study comparing the efficacy of fungicides for the control of the foliar phase of late blight. They also conducted research with registered fungicides studying both the pre- and post-infection activity for late blight control. Their research also included evaluations of the efficacy of seedpiece treatments for management of the seedborne phase of this disease. As a result of her research accomplishments, Dr. Powelson has been invited to speak to many varied audiences across the country and beyond. She is widely known as a well-organized and enthusiastic speaker who has the ability to effectively communicate scientific information to diverse audiences of scientists, students, or agricultural producers. Her presentations are concise and clear while providing no nonsense approach to improving the understanding of plant diseases and their management. At Oregon State University she received the RM Award for Excellence in teaching in the College of Ag Science and recently received the OSU Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award. It seems that when she was not delivering the research data, her students were. She has mentored many students on research relating to potatoes. Dr. Powelson has been an active leader in two professional organizations, The Potato Association of America and the American Phytopathological Society. In PAA, she chaired the Pathology Section, participated in and led several symposia over the years, and co-chaired local arrangements for the PAA annual meeting held in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1989. She served as a member of the PAA Executive Committee as director for several years and was senior editor of the American Journal of Potato Research from 1999 to 2001.

She also played key roles in the activities of APS, serving on several committees, as councilor-at-large from 1991 to 1994, and in recent years, as a member of the APS Office of Public Affairs and Education and chair of the Awards & Honors Committee. Because of her research, teaching, extension, mentoring and leadership, in 1998, she was elected as an APS Fellow, the highest award given by the American Phytopathological Society.

Dr. Powelson has also served in official and ex-offico status on numerous potato advisory boards including the Oregon Potato Certification and Foundation and Plant Materials Advisory Committee and various Western State IPM committees. During her career, Dr. Powelson co-authored more than 100 papers, book chapters, and other scientific and popular arti­cles on her research and in 1994, co-edited a book entitled Advances in Potato Pest Biology and Management published by APS Press. In summary, Dr. Mary Powelson has had an outstanding and exemplary career with her many contributions to her students, to her colleagues and to the potato industry.

Frank Fronek, Nominator


The strength and prestige of a professional organization can be measured by its accomplishments and also by the caliber of the people associated with it. Our society has truly been enriched by the membership, participation, and leadership of Oscar A. Gutbrod. Oscar has enjoyed a long and outstanding career with the potato seed industry and certification programs in our region. His program and efforts have earned the respect and recognition from his peers both nationally and internationally.

Oscar was born, raised, and graduated from high school in Sheridan, Oregon. He earned a B.S. degree in agronomic crop science in 1964 from Oregon State University. Oscar joined the crop and soil science faculty at Oregon State in July 1965 as a member of the potato research and extension team. He actively participated in the Oregon potato cultivar development program and seed potato industry. Oscar supervised the Oregon Potato Certification Program from 1968 until his retirement in December 2000. The Oregon potato seed certification program, under Oscar’s leadership, is widely recognized as one of the best programs in North America. The high standards and high-quality seed produced in the program are the result of his integrity and tireless efforts to keep the program current with the latest and best test procedures. He has led the aggressive and effective Oregon Potato Certification and Foundation Seed and Plant Materials Advisory Committees for nearly 40 years. Under his guidance, these committees merged the needs of commercial growers with expertise of university faculty to maintain high standards and quality in the industry.

Oscar is respected locally and nationally by seed and commercial potato growers alike, and he is held in high esteem by his European colleagues as well. His expertise in diagnosing bacterial and viral diseases from visual plant symptoms is virtually unparalleled. He has patiently worked with hundreds of growers, crop advisors and researchers over the years, teaching them to diagnose and combat the common pathogens affecting seed potatoes. Oscar has spearheaded efforts to modify certification procedures in Oregon, resulting in improved seed quality and competitiveness in the western seed potato market. He brings tireless energy and enthusiasm to his work and continually challenges others to do the same.

Oscar’s interest in potatoes goes beyond his duties in seed certification. He has been very active in the Oregon and regional potato cultivar development projects. He has conducted tests to evaluate responses of advanced selections and new cultivars to bacterial ring rot and has participated in early generation field selection activities. His participation in the Oregon, TriState, and Western Regional annual meetings has contributed to the evaluation and disposition decisions of early generation and advanced clonal selections. He has helped the industry to maintain awareness of the importance of disease resistance and responses in decisions to release new material. His service on the Oregon State University Variety Release Committee has provided a further check and balance to protect potato and other commodity groups from ill-advised offerings.

As an active PAA member, Oscar has provided leadership in PAA activities for four decades. He served as chair of the PAA Certification Section twice (1975 and 1983), chair of the Western Regional Potato Certification Agency for two years, chair of the PAA Audit Committee during major changes in financial matters and by-laws modifications, member of the Local Arrangements Committee for the 1989 annual PAA meeting, director of PAA (1991-1993), and PAA president (2000-2001). More recently he assisted with the 2003 NPC Annual Seed Seminar (Oregon host) and he is a current member of the PAA Constitution and By-Laws Committee.

He has been honored at the 1996 National Potato Council seed seminar with the prestigious NPC Meritorious Service Award. In 1997 the Oregon Potato Commission presented him with a Dis “tmguished Service Award and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Other recognitions that year came from the Certification Section of PAA and the association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA).

Very important to Oscar are his activities in church and its men’s group. He has been married for 39 years to his very supportive wife Carole. They have two daughters, Rebecca and Sarah, one son, Frederick, and a grandson, Nathan. Oscar and Carole enjoy working together on projects to modernize their home and manage a small forest on their acreage. They are active with Habitat for Humanity in their area. Oscar is a deeply committed worker on behalf of the potato industry worldwide and has not confined his efforts to the potato industry of Oregon or even North America. He is recognized as a spokesperson for seed potato quality and all the aspects involved in standardizing the attributes of potato seed tubers that constitute quality. His efforts have been channeled through aggressive membership and leadership roles in our association, the National Potato Council, and a working group of the United Nations. Oscar currently consults with the Oregon State University Seed Certification Program and maintains liaisons with growers and seed potato inspection programs.

Oscar has distinguished PAA and the potato industry through his continued excellence in service in numerous ways. It is highly appropriate for PAA to recognize his commitment and accomplishments with Honorary Life Membership. Our professional organization has been deeply enriched by the membership of Oscar A. Gutbrod. For this we thank and honor him.

One of Oscar’s favorite guiding thoughts is a quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Larry Hiller, Nominator