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Hugh Popenoe, age 82 of Archer passed away Wednesday, September 21, 2011 in Gainesville.
Born in 1929 in Tela, Honduras, Hugh devoted his life to the tropical world, its people, and its agriculture. His education in Guatemala prepared him for a B.Sc. in Irrigation and his first employment in Thailand. He entered the University of Florida where he studied for his PhD on the effects of shifting cultivation on basic soil properties near Lake Isabal in Guatemala. He spent the rest of his professional life teaching for the University as a professor in Soils and Water Management, Botany, Agronomy, and Geography and being involved in various international activities. After directing the Caribbean Research Program, he was appointed Director of the Center for Tropical Agriculture in 1965; Director of International Programs in Agriculture in 1966. He initiated and was Director of the Florida Sea Grant College from 1971 to 1978 and performed the duties of Chairman of the Council of Sea Grant Directors during this time. At the National level he chaired the joint Committee of Agricultural Research and Development of the Board of International Food and Development and also served on the Board of Science and Development of the National Research Council (NRC) and chaired the Advisory Committee of Technology Innovation. Hugh was the chairman or committee member of 16 NRC publications and also a member of the National Science Foundation International Advisory Committee, and founder and president of the American Water Buffalo Association.
Internationally, Hugh was a past President and Emeritus Board member of La Escuela Agricola Panamericana (Zamorano) in Honduras. He was a trustee of the International Foundation for Science and a founding board member of the Organization for Tropical Studies. He was a fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, the American Society of Agronomy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geographical Society. He was awarded the Science Pioneer Prize of the Egyptian Veterinary Association of Buffalo Development, and was a Visiting Lecturer on Tropical Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.
He and his sister, Dr. Marion Popenoe de Hatch, donated their colonial home in Antigua, Guatemala, built in 1636, to the Universidad Francisco Marroquin to preserve the colonial heritage of Latin America Continuing his interest in preservation, Hugh was a supporter of the Legacy Institute for Nature and Culture and the Conservation Trust of Florida. This past year was spent in preserving an 1873 board and batten school house on his property in Levy county.
In 1964 he was honored as "Professor of the Year in Agriculture" and continued teaching throughout his years as an administrator. Of all his activities and accomplishments, Hugh was most proud of his more than 300 graduate students and of his honor in 2009 as the first recipient of the Charles B. Heiser, Jr. Mentor Award which he received from the Society for Economic Botany in recognition of substantially impacting the Training and Professional Development of Students.
He is survived by Betty Haeseker, Marion Popenoe de Hatch, Sally Popenoe and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held Friday, September 30, 2011 at 2:30 P.M. in the Chapel of WILLIAMS-THOMAS FUNERAL HOME WESTAREA, 823 NW 143rd St., with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to your favorite charity.
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Published in Gainesville Sun from Sept. 25 to Sept. 26, 2011