Arthur Randall Alford

Dr. Arthur Randall "Randy" Alford, 55, of Madison, Miss., and Orono, Maine, lost his battle with complications related to multiple sclerosis at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland, Miss., on Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Family members will receive friends in the chapel of Wright and Ferguson Funeral Home in Ridgeland on Friday, Feb. 13, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and again on Saturday, Feb. 14, from 1 p.m. until services at 2 p.m. Burial will be in adjoining Parkway Memorial Cemetery with the Rev. Butch Simmons officiating. Dr. Alford was born in Baton Rouge on Oct. 31, 1953, to Arthur Travis Alford and Hilda Simmons Alford. His academic accomplishments began in Baton Rouge and Denham Springs, where he graduated from high school, later receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Southern Mississippi followed by his master's and doctoral degrees from LSU. After a one-year appointment as research entomologist in the chemistry department at the New Brunswick Research and Productivity Council in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, he became an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maine in Orono in 1982. His research focused on the chemical ecology of insects and on insect attractants and pheromones. He investigated plant chemicals associated with insect feeding stimulation and deterrence and, later in his career, combined these interests in the development of a strategy for the successful management of the Colorado potato beetle. During his 26-year career at the University of Maine, Dr. Alford served as chairman of the department of entomology from 1992 to 1994, and served as chairman of the applied entomology and environmental sciences department from 1994 to 1997. He was instrumental in establishing the Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Maine in 1986 and the Potato Ecosystem Project, a longterm research program, in 1992, which continues to this day. He was also a member of the Entomological Society of America and of the International Chemosensory Workshop on Insects. Throughout his career, Dr. Alford inspired and mentored many students, formally in the classroom teaching "Insect Morphology, Physiology and Behavior," "Pesticides and the Environment," "Plant Pest Interactions," and honors tutorials and, as significantly, informally in the many conversations and discussions with students and colleagues in his office, hallways and committee meetings. Students revered him as much for his thought-provoking questions and philosophical perspectives on life as they did for his expertise in insect physiology and behavior. Serving as a major adviser for seven graduate students, he also served on many graduate and honors advisory committees. For five years he served on the university honors council and he was a dedicated faculty mentor in the Maine Upward Bound Program, assisting underprivileged students to improve their skills in high school and prepare to enter and succeed in college. Many of Maine's Upward Bound graduates speak of Dr. Alford as their favorite and most fondly remembered professor and mentor because of his unique ability to both inspire curiosity and foster achievement. But Dr. Alford's first academic love was entomology. He worked from 1996 to 2007 to preserve the legacy of Maine's most renowned entomologist, Dr. Edith Patch, through the development of her home, Braeside, into the Edith Marion Patch Center for Entomology, the Environment and Education. Instrumental in placing Braeside on "Maine's Most Endangered Buildings" list, he steered Braeside onto the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, was a founding member of the Friends of Dr. Edith Marion Patch and spearheaded the project to preserve Dr. Patch's home and gardens on the edge of the University of Maine campus. He served as co-chairman of the University/Town Relations Committee from October 2002 to May 2003. Dr. Alford was professor of entomology in the School of Biology and Ecology at the time of his departure from the University of Maine in 2007 due to illness. His love of good friends, good food and his fondness for music led him and his wife to found the Southern Supper Club in Orono in 1997. Throughout his declining years, his whole-hearted joy in hosting frequent Southern Supper Club dinners and many charity events and tours in his beloved home, the Squire John Bennoch House overlooking the Stillwater River, remained a steadfast source of enjoyment for him. His love of family was always apparent in the enjoyable times he spent over the years with his wife and children traveling, hiking, camping and skiing. He never let his illness interfere with his devotion to his children or his joy in attending their academic and sporting events and cheering their accomplishments. He will long be fondly remembered by his family, colleagues, students and friends as a true Southern gentleman, a welcoming host, a delightful and entertaining storyteller and a collector of friends. The world is a better place for those who knew him. He is survived by his beloved wife, Jo Carol Alford, of Madison; devoted mother, Hilda Alford, of Denham Springs; sons, Travis Alford, of Atlanta and Elliot Alford, of Portland, Ore.; daughter, Olivia Alford, of Boston; stepdaughter, Leah and husband Brian Harris of Clinton, Miss.; brother, Rick Alford, of Denham Springs; niece, Monica Alford, of Denham Springs; grandsons, Cade and Chandler Harrris, both of Clinton, Miss.; and father-in-law and mother-in-law, Carroll and Peggy Rosamond, of Madison. He was preceded in death by his father, Arthur Travis Alford. Serving as pallbearers will be Jim Boren, Donnie Mashon, Collier Beasley, John Cooper Fore, Barry Starnes and Ralph Underwood. Honorary pallbearers are Bryan Green, Richard Rula, John Jemison, David Kimler, Wayne Honeycutt, Abner Hammond, Don Rosamond, Todd Rosamond, Johnny Hill, Wellie Harris, Joe Labruzzo, Barry Hannula and Jack Burton Hannula. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Friends of Dr. Edith Marion Patch by mailing donations to Dr. Nancy MacKnight, 52 Penobscot St., Orono, ME 04473. Donations may be made payable to the University of Maine Foundation with Friends of Patch/Dr. Alford in the memo line. Dr. Alford's family wishes to express its deep gratitude to Dr. Ruth Fredericks, Dr. Michael Winkelmann, Dr. Indira Veerisetty, Dr. Anne Whitehurst, Dr. Adam Lewis, Dr. Dale Walker and the staff of Hospice Ministries, St. Dominic Hospital, Methodist Rehabilitation Center, Mississippi Home Care and Trinity Mission Rehabilitation for the kind, loving care he received. Special thanks and recognition to Dr. Alford's favorites, Sherry Ingle, Alvin Thigpen and Jessica Keyes.

Funeral Home

Parkway Funeral Home and Memorial Park
1161 Highland Colony Pkwy Ridgeland, MS 39157
(601) 853-7696

Published in TheAdvocate.com on Feb. 12, 2009