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Dwight Isely

Posted by transfer on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 02:49 PM

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People - Leute

This is the obituary of Dwight Isely, the son of Christian H. and Elise.

Personal record Ancestors Descendants

Biography

Dwight Isely was born Aug. 15, 1887 on a farm near Fairview, Kansas. He was the son of Christian and Elise Dubach Isely. He received his A.B. degree from Wichita State University (then Fairmount College) in 1910 and his M.A. from the University of Kansas in 1913. He was also a graduate student at Cornell University for a year. He was married in 1916 to Blessie Elise Dort. He died Dec. 26, 1974, and is buried in Fairview Memorial Gardens in Fayetteville. His wife preceded him in death by about a year. He is survived by two sons, Dr. Duane Isely of Ames, Iowa, and Francis D. Isely of Dallas, Texas, and by two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Employment

His first entomological employment was in 1914 by the Bureau of Entomology, USDA, in Washington, DC, with summers spent working on control of grape insects at North East, Pennsylvania. He was transferred to Bentonville, Arkansas in 1917 for research on control of apple insects. In 1921 he joined the University of Arkansas where he served for 35 years as a researcher, teacher, and unofficial Extension Entomologist. During his latter years he was appointed Director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. (The title then was Associate Director). He also served in Peru as a consultant in cotton insect control for the Institute of Inter-American Affairs, and concluded his active career in 1956 as Director of the University of Arkansas Agricultural Mission to Panama.

Entomology research

Dwight Isely's original interest in entomology was in taxonomy and biology, especially of the eumenid wasps and other vespids. While employed by the USDA in Washington, he worked over the eumenid collection of the U.S. National Museum, and published a synopsis of the (then) family found in America north of Mexico.

He was employed by the University of Arkansas principally because of the threat to the cotton crop by the newly-introduced boll weevil. While he studied the biology and control of numerous insects, his greatest contributions were on codling moth and boll weevil. Cotton bollworm received somewhat less attention, yet in recent work on mathematical simulation modeling of bollworm populations, the basic biological data came from a 40-year-old publication of Dwight Isely's, Arkansas Bulletin 320.

Dwight Isely's research on insect control was oriented around the proposition that as much as possible should be known about an insect pest's biology and behavior, as a basis for developing refined control programs. One aspect of refinement was that an insecticide should not be applied without a demonstrated need. Thus much of his effort was on economic thresholds, timing of applications, methods of assessing population levels, factors affecting abundance, predicting, non-insecticidal methods of control, and insect biology in general. The most apt evaluation of his work probably lies in the fact that his approach to insect control was very similar to that which is now being adopted generally as pest management.

As a research entomologist, Dwight Isely had unusually good powers of observation. A field trip with him was an education. He relied heavily on his taxonomy for ideas in applied entomology. He was also a good taxonomic botanist, and used this information in speculating about possible wild hosts of insect pests.

Teaching

Dwight Isely taught throughout his career. In the early years he taught the courses on insect control, and also taxonomy and morphology. He made an extremely strong, favorable and lasting impression on the vast majority of students.

Cotton scouting

He encouraged cotton growers to hire students during the summer to make infestation and damage counts in their fields, as a basis for timing insecticide applications. The first such "cotton scout" (Dwight Isely's terminology) worked in Lee County in 1925. Employment of scouts was irregular in ensuing years, until in 1949 a formal, permanent scouting program was organized by the Cooperative Extension Service. It grew steadily, and currently employs between 150 and 180 scouts each summer.

Societies

He was President of the Southeastern Branch, ESA, in 1947-48. He joined the Entomological Society of America in 1914 and The American Association of Economic Entomologists in 1917.

Dwight Isely Award

According to Gerald Wallis, who has been working for him in the 50's and shared an office with him after he retired and served as Emeritus Professor, he was a "Teacher of students" till the end of his life and never missed an opportunity to advance the love and knowledge of Entomology to all that would listen. Nowadays, the Dwight Isely Award recognizes students whose performance has been outstanding in academics, research and service.

Other interests and personality

The number and variety of Dwight Isely's interests other than entomology was sometimes a little hard to believe. He was a competent ornithologist; his first publication, in fact, was on birds. He had an intense interest in biographies of early American statesmen. Civil War history was one of his favorite subjects. He knew his antique furniture and eventually collected a houseful. He grew flowers. He liked opera. Involved in many of these various interests was a prodigious memory. He once complained to Floyd Miner (who wrote the obituary) that he wasn't able to forget things as well as he would have liked.

Another outside interest was young people. If a student got into financial difficulties, Dwight Isely could generally give him a job in his extensive flower gardens, inventing one if necessary, until the student was solvent. He also served as Scoutmaster of an unusually good troop of Boy Scouts.

Personally he was somewhat reserved and not aggressive on his own account. He was always loyal to his friends and to the organization with which he was working. He was not easy to get closed acquainted with, but those who did found, as one young minister put it, "a remarkable man."

Note: Compilation of his obituary, written by Floyd Miner, which appeared in Journal of Economic Entomology.
Many thanks to Gerald Wallis who sent us the obituary.


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