W. James Harper
{ "" }
Share
Share W.'s life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Harper W. James Harper, 91, passed away on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Friendship Village of Dublin Health Center near his home in Columbus, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his first wife Eloise Harper and his two brothers, Claude Jr and Bob. He is survived by his second wife, Helen Harper; his sons, Kenn and Scott; his daughter, Virginia Harper; his daughters-in-law, Lucy and Pam; two grandchildren, Jason and Rebecca Harper; and two great-grandchildren, Calvin and Quincy Harper; and over a 150 graduate students. Jim started at Purdue University in 1941 where he was a member of the Alpha Gama Rho fraternity. In 1943 he was called to active duty. After serving in the United States Army in World War II, where he received the Purple Heart, Jim graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. (1946) and from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a PhD (1949). His career in teaching and research in food science encompassed over 70 years starting with an undergraduate research project in 1942 at Purdue and lasting until his death leaving a book chapter partially finished. (see http://tinyurl.com/k3a2tuc for his 2010 autobiography of his journey in science). The quality of his research was repeatedly recognized nationally and internationally with awards such as the American Dairy Science Association Borden Award for Dairy Foods Research (1958) and the Institute of Food Technologists' Stephen S. Chang Award for flavor research (1999). He was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1966), and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. In 2014 he received an honorary Doctorate in Agriculture from Purdue University. Jim was also a remarkable teacher as indicated by three teaching awards including the Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Food Agriculture and Environmental Science (1997). His graduate students have painted a very glowing picture of him as a teacher and for his ability to prepare them for their future. One ex-student told Jim that he hated one of Jim's courses but that he had been able to parlay what he had learned into a Vice-presidency in a leading corporation. Other students have stated that being known as one of Jim Harper's students had a significant cachet. The majority of Jim's professional career was spent as professor at the Ohio State University. He began in 1949 as an assistant professor in the Department of Dairy Technology and became a Full Professor in 1961. In 1981, Jim retired, was granted Professor Emeritus status, and moved to New Zealand to head up a group of researchers working on a whey protein concentrate program at the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute (NZDRI). They developed technologies that still bring in more than a billion dollars a year to New Zealand. In 1986 Jim returned to the United States where he worked as a consultant in the dairy and food industry. NZDRI, New Zealand Milk Products in Santa Rosa, CA, and the Wisconsin Dairy Research Center were among his clients. In 1992 he was asked to return to OSU to teach two core classes and in 1993 was offered the J.T. "Stubby Parker" Endowed Chair in Dairy Foods with initial research focusing on functional properties of dairy foods. After 20 years of research, teaching and graduating a whole new crop of graduate students, Jim retired for a 4th time in August of 2013. However, retirement looked rather like pre-retirement since he was still teaching, running a grant funded lab, and going into work five days a week. Jim had many hobbies such as fishing, camping, writing poetry, and painting, but his interest in orchids became a major part of his life growing from a few plants on the kitchen windowsill to several thousand in greenhouses. In addition to buying and trading for orchids, he traveled to many parts of the world to collect orchids including Mexico and Papua New Guinea. He is past president of the Central Ohio Orchid Society and currently on the board of directors as well as a qualified America Orchid Society judge. He will be deeply missed for his warmth, "cute smile and laugh," for his enthusiasm for teaching, research and students, and for many great conversations. Jim's life will be celebrated at a memorial service and reception on Saturday, August 2 from 2-4 p.m. at the Ohio State University Faculty Club, 181 South Oval Dr., Columbus, OH 43210 (http://tinyurl.com/d4urzl6). In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to a charity of your choice or in his memory to: the American Heart Association; Eloise B. Harper Scholarship Fund in Food Science and Technology.



To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Columbus Dispatch from Jul. 15 to Jul. 19, 2014.
MAKE A DONATION
Please consider a donation, as requested by the family.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
21 entries
December 18, 2014
Remembering Jim as Christmas arrives Downunder where he and his wife would arrive from northern Winter to southern Summer about this time every year, visiting friends in Australia en route to New Zealand for ongoing research work and endless garden experiences. We miss Jim so much but are glad of all the good years. Apart from considerable mentoring in agricultural science, Jim taught us to live life to the maximum, to keep a sense of humour and to enjoy Nature in all its beauty.
Deepest condolences to Helen, Scott, Kenn, Virginia and families.
John and Cheryl Pearce and Family, Kiama, NSW Australia
November 6, 2014
Jim Harper changed my path in life. He taught, challenged and encouraged like no other and he will be missed.
Stephen French
August 6, 2014
I had the great fortune to be "adopted" by Jim and Eloise shortly after they arrived in Palmerston North. Jim was very generous with his time and his knowledge and he nurtured my love of orchids and of the environment they grew in. My condolences to Helen, Ginny, Kenn, Scott and all the grand- and great grandchildren. A mighty Totara has fallen.
David McConachie
August 4, 2014
I had the privilege of working with Jim over 4 New Zealand summers at Fonterra Research Centre (NZDRI) in Palmerston North. I first met him in 1982. His energy and enthusiasm were outstanding. It is sad to hear of his passing and I send sincere condolences to Helen and his family from
David Illingworth
August 2, 2014
I was a grad student of Dr. Harper's in the late 70s and have to say that he was the best instructor I have had throughout my educational pursuits. I remember the first time I met him, he was running up the steps, two at a time, in a hurry for "something", but still had the time to say "hello". I don't remember the number of the course, but there was one where he would merely state a problem from his experience in working with industry, and the students would have to ask questions and find out what happened, and what you would do to fix and prevent it from happening again. It was an excellent way to prepare us for real-life manufacturing experiences.

I also remember helping him cut down trees in his yard one weekend, and the pride he took in making everything look just right. He was a good man, and my condolences go out to his family and friends. I respected him, and shall miss him.
Tom Foegle
July 31, 2014
My heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Helen Harper, Kenn, Scott, Virginia and families. I was Doc Harper's graduate student in the late 60's and also spent many weekends at his home with him and Mrs. Eloise Harper, enjoying their hospitality and the lovely views of Hoover Reservoir. He was blessed with a long life and a distinguished career and I was fortunate to have met him one last time last year just before his 90th birthday in his office at the Parker Food Science building. A photo taken that day of the two of us will remain a cherished reminder of our association. I will be out of town this weekend and regret being unable to attend the memorial service.
ROHINI DESAI MULCHANDANI
July 25, 2014
Jim was a wonder person. An amazing gardener. A fascinating man. A friend. He will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family.
John Laws and Andrea Wagner
July 24, 2014
To Dr Harper's Family and Friends, Our deepest sympathies go out to you. May God, and the many good memories, sustain you; now and also in the future..Jim was a very dynamic, yet humble, individual. Our thoughts and prayers are for you and your families. Sincere condolences from the Art Beerys, Smithville, Ohio (BSinDT'68,MS'71)Art@Beerys.com
Art & Eileen Beery
July 22, 2014
What a privilege to have had Dr. Harper as my teacher and friend. My condolences and prayers, I extend to Jim's family.
Paul Culler
July 22, 2014
I was a student of Dr. Harper in the mid '90's and of all of my classes I learned the most from him. We had some good laughs about my failed attempt at making cottage cheese with a bad culture and he suggested adding some rennet to coagulate the protein. Well, I overshot and pretty much turned the curds into hard plastic. A great lesson how you can learn from failure and he looked at every situation as a learning opportunity. Dr. Harper touched a lot of lives and will surely be missed.
Rob Beauseau
July 21, 2014
ONE of "THE"
Herb
July 21, 2014
WWII Veteran
Herb
July 21, 2014
Purple Heart
Herb
July 21, 2014
God Bless/RIP,to ALL who served in WWII. Thank YOU for your service,Jim...... And Semper Fi.
Herb Guyer-Sharfenaker USMC
July 18, 2014
May your memories of the wonderful times you shared with your loved one comfort you and your family, today and always.
American Heart Association
July 17, 2014
I would just like to say it was a wonderful treat to work with Dr. Harper on his "Pioneers in Dairy Science Webinar". He was a very wonderful man and an excellent scientist. I learned very much from him from this experience. Best wishes to his family and I am very sorry for the loss of a great man and scientist.
July 17, 2014
Let the Light shine
Kenn Harper
July 16, 2014
We will miss you Dr. Harper, thanks for everything.
Wei Jian Tan
July 16, 2014
He had a long and distinguished career. We will miss him as a valued colleague.

John Lindamood
July 15, 2014
To the Harper Family--
May you find comfort in knowing that your sorrow is shared by many people who care about you.
The Ohio State University Retirees Association
July 15, 2014
What a great example Dr. Harper set for all of his students and colleagues. As a student in the late 60's and early 70's I greatly respected his knowledge and teaching abilities.
Bill Snow
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences