WINFIELD HART BATTLED NEMATODES THAT HARMED STATE'S CROPS


From the Sacramento Bee, March 8, 1998



By    Carlos Alcala Bee Staff Writer

--Winfield Hart spent a career combating minuscule animals with big impacts. As the first nematologist with the state Department of Food and Agriculture, and later with the UC Cooperative Extension, Dr. Hart helped farmers eliminate nematodes - parasitic worms - from their crops.

Dr. Hart died from congestive heart failure Monday at Sierra Health Care Facility. He was 81.

He went to work for the state in the early 1950s, after earning his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, and became the Davis Extension's first nematologist in 1959. In both places, his work involved studying hundreds of varieties of nematodes - worms smaller than pencil points - that suck nutrients from California's agricultural crops.

"You can never eradicate anything of this sort," said his longtime colleague and friend, Armand Maggenti, but Dr. Hart worked with farmers to find methods to kill nematodes that infested strawberries, cherries, Easter lilies, nuts, hops and other plants.

Not only did he develop ways to kill the pests, Dr. Hart also took pains to make sure his methods were not disruptive of normal farming techniques.

"Win was always conscious of the farm practices," Maggenti said.

After retiring in 1984, Dr. Hart and his wife, Dorothy, traveled extensively, pulling a fifth-wheel trailer behind a truck around the United States and Canada.

Their favorite spot was probably Montana. "We both liked fishing and they had some great streams there," Dorothy Hart said.

Winfield Hiram Hart was born in San Jose in 1916.

He graduated from San Jose State College with a degree in forestry and worked for the U.S. Forest Service before signing up for military service the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He got married the next year on a three-day pass. The Harts celebrated their 55th anniversary in November.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons, Michael of Carmichael, Stephen of Sacramento and Daniel of Bozeman, Mont.; a sister, Lelia Beffort of Reno; seven grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. March 21 at Veterans Memorial Hall, 203 East 14th St., Davis.

In his memory, any contributions may be made to support graduate students in the department of nematology at UC Davis. Checks should be made to the Regents of the University of California and sent to: Department of Nematology, 1 Shields Ave., University of California, Davis, 95616.

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