Dr. George Wesley Bengtson Sr.


AUBURN, AL - Dr. George Wesley Bengtson, Sr., 86, of Auburn, Alabama, died Feb. 19, 2017, in Auburn, where he had lived since 1991. He was retired after a decade as Associate Dean of the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, with responsibility for the school's education and extension programs. A native of Sealy, Texas, he was born Nov. 3, 1930, a son of the late Rev. William Henry Bengtson and the late Edna Hake Bengtson (the former Edna Selma Hake). He spent most of his childhood and adolescent years in southern Louisiana.
Survivors include his wife, the former Patricia Anne Herndon. They were married on Nov. 22, 1959, in Lake City, Florida. Other survivors include son Dr. George Wesley Bengtson, Jr., and his wife, Dr. Theresa Anne Langdon, and their children, Lucas Langdon Bengtson, Lillian Langdon Bengtson, Louis Langdon Bengtson, and Frances Langdon Bengtson, all of Portland, Oregon, son William Robert Bengtson, of Aiken, and son Michael Scott Bengtson, of Charlotte, North Carolina.
He is also survived by a sister, Dorothy (Elaine) Bengtson Smith, wife of George Robert Smith, both of DeQuincy, Louisiana.
Dr. Bengtson was predeceased by a brother, the Rev. Robert William Bengtson, husband of the late Bonnie (Jean) Dunbar Bengtson, both of Lafayette, Lousiana, and by a sister, Margery (Janelle) Bengtson Rhodes, wife of William Cecil Rhodes, of Cordova, Tennessee.
Dr. Bengtson, focusing on forestry and soil sciences, earned degrees from Louisiana State University (Bachelor of Science, 1951), Duke University (Master's, 1955) and Yale University (Ph.D, 1961). He also served in the Air Force during the Korean conflict, being based in Japan (1952-54).
He began his forestry career as a research forester and plant physiologist with the USDA Forest Service in Olustee, Florida, and moved on to become a research forester with the Tennessee Valley Authority, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
He later served as an Associate Dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry, focusing mainly on extension programs; and later became Director of the Center for Forested Wetlands Research, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, USDA Forest Service, in Charleston, South Carolina.
His retirement years included two terms as a member of the Auburn Tree Commission, with a leadership role in establishment of the Auburn Historic Tree Trail, in Town Creek Park - one of the roles mentioned in a proclamation, signed by Auburn Mayor Bill Ham, designating Nov. 27, 2012, as "George Bengtson Day" in Auburn, to celebrate "his dedication to helping preserve Auburn's beautification and urban forestry."
He enjoyed landscaping, traveling, sports (especially college football) and observing nature, and spent time as a youth basketball coach and Boy Scout leader.
Honors over the years included being named in 1985 as a Fellow of the Society of American Foresters, receiving a USDA Certificate of Merit in 1990 (for exemplary service in the response to Hurricane Hugo), the John A. Beale Memorial Award, in 1991 (recognizing service to forestry and the Society of American Foresters), election to Alabama Foresters Hall of Fame in 2000, and being listed in Marquis' Who's Who in American Education and Marquis' Who's Who in Science and Engineering.
Members of his immediate family are planning a private celebration of his life. The family would like to express thanks for the excellent, compassionate care from Oak Park nursing home, in Auburn, especially the skilled nursing staff; and for similarly superb care from Dr. Ramdas Kamath.
The family is also thankful for cherished friend Dr. Emmett Thompson.
Donations in his memory may be made to the charitable organization of one's choice.
Published in The Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star from Mar. 17 to Mar. 18, 2017