Woodward's Chet Dewald honored posthumously as an OSU Master AgronomistTue, 10 Apr 2012 11:53:22 CDT
Chester "Chet" Dewald of Woodward, Okla. has been honored posthumously as a Master Agronomist by Oklahoma State University's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
The award was initiated in 1947 and recognizes Oklahoma agriculturists who actively participate in agronomic education programs and contribute valuable public service through their efforts in soil conservation, range management or crop production.
"As a scientist, his work resulted in five separate patents for chaffy grass seed-handling equipment that is now manufactured, marketed and utilized worldwide," said Hailin Zhang, interim head of the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. "He was a member of many professional societies and organizations but was most proud of being an OSU agriculture alumnus."
Dewald was born in Vici in 1934, grew up on a small farm west of Woodward and graduated from Tangier High School where he lettered in baseball, basketball and track. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree and his Master of Science degree - both in agronomy with honors - from OSU in 1957 and 1959, respectively.
He began his lifelong career as an agronomist with the Stauffer Chemical Company's Agricultural Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. in 1959. He was promoted to section head in California and in 1962 was asked to serve as the company's field representative for the southwest region of the United States. In 1968, Dewald became the technical director of Stauffer de Mexico, in Celaya, Guanajato, Mexico.
After four years of leading successful research programs in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, Dewald left Stauffer and moved his family back to Oklahoma, where they established a diversified family farm and ranch operation consisting of crops, cattle, swine and horses. In 1974, he accepted a position as an agronomist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, based in Woodward.
"As a researcher, Chet Dewald was honored by the USDA for scientific excellence on 10 separate occasions," Zhang said. "He contributed to 10 patents, three licensed cultivars, three public cultivars and six germplasm lines."
Dewald made significant contributions toward the development of a number of grasses, including many varieties of native grasses. After his passing in 2002, the USDA honored him by naming and releasing "Chet," an improved variety of sand bluestem.
He and his wife of 48 years Elaine, who passed in 2006, are survived by daughter Robin and sons Greg, Bob and Scott.
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