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Penn State’s Dick Fox dies

By |  March 19, 2021 0 Comments

Former Penn State University soil fertility researcher Richard “Dick” Fox died March 1, in Prescott, Ariz., from heart failure. His children, Helen and Russell Fox, were by his side.

He was born in Reno, Nev., to Henry Gahan Fox and Elizabeth Bash Fox. His family lived and worked on a cattle and dairy ranch in Carson Valley, Nev., as a child.

He attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., on a Union Carbide scholarship, and received a B.A. in chemistry. Dick married fellow Carleton graduate Sarah C. Hardin in 1961 She died in 1993. After obtaining his M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural chemistry and soils from the University of Arizona, he lived and worked in Peru and Puerto Rico on USAID tropical soils research projects.

Fox joined the Penn State University’s agronomy department in 1975. His soil fertility research was partially responsible for a 20 percent reduction in nitrogen fertilizer use in Pennsylvania, which both increased the profitability for farmers and reduced water pollution. Dick received numerous professional honors and research awards over the course of his career. He retired at the end of 2001 as Professor Emeritus and moved to Prescott, Ariz., in 2003, with Robin Giles Kendall, his partner since 1997.

He enjoyed reading, hiking (he climbed all the highest peaks in the eastern U.S. and in the southwest from Oklahoma through to California), playing squash, and traveling. Over his lifetime, Dick visited all 50 states, all the Canadian provinces and 50 countries.

In addition to his children and brother, James G. Fox, he is survived by 2 granddaughters, nieces, and a nephew.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages those interested in donating to consider donating to a nature conservation organization given Dick’s love of wilderness. A virtual memorial service will be hosted via Zoom by the Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation on March 27 at 2 p.m. (ET).

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