Dr. R. Hilton Biggs, 81 of Alachua, Fla. passed away Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. He was born at home in Bear Grass on May 5, 1931 to Dennis Robert and Marie Wynn Biggs. He received a BS in Biological Science from East Carolina College and a MS and Ph.D. from Purdue University in Plant Physiology, Biochemistry & Horticulture. In 1957 the University of Florida hired him as their Plant Physiologist/Biochemist in the Fruit Crops Dept. The National Science Foundation sent him for special post-graduate work in medical electronics & chemical toxicology.
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Hilton is best known for his research on chemical aids for harvesting citrus fruit, bud dormancy in fruit trees, viruses infecting citrus, adverse effects of pesticides including the fungicide Benlate and the effect of environmental pollutants on crops. He was a leader in research on the physiological & biochemical effects of increased ozone, acid rain (from sulfur dioxide pollution) and ultraviolet light on crop plants. He generated over $600,000 in grant money for his research that resulted in over 150 publications in scientific journals, six books and monographs. He traveled extensively to present his results here and overseas and to consult with governmental agencies in Washington DC, private industry & the World Health Organization.
Dr. Biggs became a Full Professor (biochemist), served as Chairman of the Fruit Crops Dept. and retired as Professor Emeritus in 1992. He belonged to 12 different Professional and Honorary Societies and served on committees for them. From the University of Florida Chapter he received the Senior Faculty Award of Gamma Sigma Delta. In his spare time he raised cattle, baled hay, grew blueberries, ornamental and pine trees.
Hilton is survived by his wife of 33 years, Dr. Susan V. Kossuth, their daughter Robin Rentz and husband, Ryan; his first wife, Becky Duncan, their daughters, Dixie Biggs and partner, Delaine Miller, and Mary Gay and husband, Joe, and their four children, Colin, Charlotte, Emma and Grace; five brothers and sisters and their children of North Carolina, Sammy Biggs, Billy Biggs and wife, Lolly, Dennis Biggs and wife, Grace, Molly Stephenson and husband, Harold, and Jean Biggs.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 in the Iona Chapel of the First Presbyterian Church at 106 SW 3rd Street, Gainesville, Fla. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Hilton's memory to First Presbyterian Church.
Published in The Daily Reflector on Nov. 22, 2012