Albert L. (Al) Scharen, 88, Research Professor Emeritus at Montana State University, and retired Research Leader of the Cereal Crops Improvement Group, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), died Feb. 9 at home after an extended illness.
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Al was born at home on a farm in the Shell Valley of northern Wyoming where he attended school. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he served a tour of duty in the U.S. Army in Korea. He received his Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Pathology from the University of Nebraska in 1960. He began his career in Beltsville, Maryland, where he worked as a Research Plant Pathologist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service. There he met and married Victoria (Felten) Scharen and they returned together to the West where they raised their children in Bozeman, Montana.
Among his many accomplishments, he was particularly proud of mentoring more than 30 masters and doctoral students from many parts of the world. His collaborative research, both with former students and other colleagues, included many jointly authored publications including "The Septoria Diseases of Wheat" (1987). In 1992-93, he was the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Fellowship. Accompanied by Vicki and Will, he spent six months in Germany, working at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in Göttingen, Germany. He was known among his university colleagues and students for hosting a yearly "churrasco," a South American-style outdoor barbeque with a whole lamb roast on a spit. He was a long-time supporter of the Bozeman Symphony and enjoyed time hiking, camping and fishing in the mountains surrounding Bozeman.
In his final years, Al moved with Vicki to a seaside home in Port Isabel, Texas. While in poor health, he appreciated the natural beauty of the Laguna Madre and its wildlife. He was active supporting Vicki's environmental activism group, Respeta Tu Playa, and helped them to become an official non-profit organization.
He leaves his wife Victoria (Felten) Scharen, a teacher and fiber artist, of Port Isabel, Texas; Anne Marie Griffin (Thomas) a teacher, librarian and violist in Rochester, Minnesota; Chris (Sonja), a Lutheran pastor and professor in St. Paul, Minnesota and New York City, New York; and Will (Shelby), a trombonist and custom bicycle builder in Medford, Oregon; grandchildren, Sarah (20), Victor (18), Isaiah (17), and Grace (15). He also leaves a sister, Betty, of Phoenix, Arizona.
Memorials may be made to The MSU Alumni Foundation Plant Sciences Student Activities Travel fund in memory of Dr. Scharen (care of The MSU Alumni Foundation, P.O. Box 172750 Bozeman MT 59717), or The Bozeman Symphony (http://www.bozemansymphony.org/support).
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Feb. 19, 2016