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Dr. David Pimentel

Dr.  David Pimentel Obituary
Dr. David Pimentel

Ithaca - Dr. David Pimentel, distinguished professor at Cornell University and long-time resident of Ithaca has passed away at the age of 94. David was a prolific researcher and writer of 690 published scientific papers and also 40 books, many of which are in circulation today and are relevant to the talk of climate change and the carrying capacity of the Earth.

David was born in Massachusetts, and grew up in Fresno California. He entered the Army Air Force before graduating high school where he trained pilots to fly the B-24. After the war he earned his BS at UMass Amherst in 1948. He earned his doctorate from Cornell University in 1951 that later included a fellowship at Oxford University (England). Dr. Pimentel was then called back into government service with the US Public Health Service in Puerto Rico for four years.

While at Cornell doing post graduate work he met and married Marcia Hutchins in 1949. Together they had three children Christina, Susan and Mark. Dr. Pimentel returned to Cornell in 1955 as an Assistant Professor, then a Professor, and later Head of the Entomology Department. His work and teaching moved well beyond entomology to agricultural economics, and ecology. Dr. Pimentel also traveled the world for our State Department advising many countries how to increase their crop yields to better feed their citizens.

Dr. Pimentel took several bold and initially controversial stands to protect the Earth's environment. He was the first to decry the use of the pesticide DDT before it was banned. As a member of the Secretary of Energy's Research Advisory Board when Biofuels (like Ethanol) were all the rage, his research showed they were an actual waste of energy, water and other resources. Dr. Pimentel also rang the bell on the need for better conservation of soil and water, and population control long before we heard the term "sustainability". In his mid-80's Dr. Pimentel participated in a meeting hosted by Prince Charles along with 10 other scientists on the Earth's sustainability. Dr Pimentel's work on sustainability was groundbreaking and remains part of the foundational work in that area today.

Dr. Pimentel served on several prestigious boards and Presidential Commissions and committees. He served as President of the Rachel Carson Council, was elected to the Audubon Society and the American Institute of Biological Sciences and served on the boards of the National Geographic Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. UMASS home of his undergraduate degree later conferred an honorary Doctorate to him.

While most people would retire by 87 Dr. Pimentel remained active at Cornell teaching, researching and publishing. He loved to fish, and get up before the sun rose to reflect and write. For years he transformed his patio into a skating rink, a hill into a toboggan run, and turned his tractor and wagon into an amusement ride for his children and grandchildren. An enthusiastic fitness buff he was running 5 miles a day until he turned 70, and then biking 10 miles a day until he was 88 years old.

David is survived by his wife of 70 years Marcia Pimentel, daughter Tina Piper (David Piper) of North Canton, Ohio, daughter Susan Pimentel (Andre Robichaud) of Ft Myers, Florida, and son Mark Pimentel (Viki Pimentel) of Atlanta, Georgia. He is also survived by grandchildren Lauren Piper (Pat Cottle), Jocelyn Piper (Max Deacy), Yardley Roberts (Marcus Roberts), Hutch Pimentel and Donovan Pimentel, and great grandchildren Kaia Roberts, Micah Grant Roberts, Finn David Roberts and Kayla (Piper) Cottle. Special mention is due to Dr. Pimentel's long-time assistant and dear friend Mike Burgess who worked tirelessly his side at Cornell.

If you'd like to make a gift in honor of Dr. David Pimentel and his concern for the globe, please visit the National Geographic website at Please make sure to check the box next to "Mail a letter on my behalf" and note Dr. Pimentel so we can be notified of your generous gift. If you prefer to send a check please include "In memory of David Pimentel" in the "For" section of the check and mail to National Geographic Society at 1145 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036. Thank-you.
Published in Ithaca Journal from Dec. 14 to Dec. 16, 2019
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