In Memoriam - John Richard Parmeter

October 27, 2010

Professor John Richard Parmeter passed away at the age of 83 on October 27 2010 in Oregon.

John Richard “Dick” Parmeter Jr. was born September 16, 1927, and grew up in The Dalles, OR. At the age of 17 he joined the Marines and was preparing for the invasion of Japan when the Atomic Bomb ended the war. He attended Oregon State College and earned a B.S. degree in botany and plant pathology in 1951. He then went East to the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a PhD in plant pathology in 1955. His dissertation was entitled “Oak wilt development in bur oaks”, and was completed under the direction of Riker and Kuntz. He worked from 1955-57 for the Forest Service at the Lake States Experiment Station.

In 1957 he was hired as assistant professor of Plant Pathology at UC Berkeley, where he stayed until retirement, sharing a large lab with Fields Cobb on the first floor of Giannini Hall. Dick became a world’s authority on the root pathogen Rhizoctonia solani, but devoted much of his career to forest pathology, including the dwarf mistletoes of pines and firs, air pollution effects on pines, bark beetle-pathogen interactions, and the root diseases. His passion for and skill at fishing and Hearts were legendary. He had many professional interests, among which were the effects of smoke on fungi, and the role of root pathogens in shaping the structure, composition, and longevity of forests in Yosemite Valley. His first graduate student was Bob Scharpf, who became a research pathologist with the Forest Service at the PSW Research Station in Berkeley; for more than thirty years Dick and he collaborated closely on dwarf mistletoe research. His last graduate student was Mark Schultz, who is now a Forest Service entomologist in Juneau, AK. Dick retired in 1991. He and his wife Anita moved to Florence, OR shortly thereafter. Dick commented once that he chose Florence because of the moderate climate and because he felt that the bounty of the ocean would be insurance against economic collapse or other disaster. Dick and Anita travelled extensively to see their children and to visit colleagues in the United States and Europe. In 2008, his and Fields Cobb’s former graduate students organized a reunion and tribute to both Professors in Post Falls, ID. It was a resounding success. Dick died on October 27th in Oregon at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife Anita and his children.