In Memoriam

Henry William Crittenden, Jan. 30, 2012


10:34 a.m., Feb. 3, 2012--Henry William “Bill” Crittenden, 95, died on Jan. 30 in Indianapolis. 

Professor emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Delaware, Dr. Crittenden served on the UD faculty from 1949 until his retirement in 1977. He taught a variety of classes and mentored numerous graduate students.  

According to his family, Dr. Crittenden loved his job because it allowed him to both teach and do research. His knowledge of ecology and his intuition led him to the belief that pesticides and herbicides, which were heavily used at the time, were a threat to people and would have negative, long-term environmental consequences. This belief led to his passion for breeding disease- and pest-resistant crops, and as a result he developed numerous new varieties.  He also was concerned about world hunger, and he believed that soybeans, which were fed to animals, had great potential as a human food source if he could only breed a more appealing and palatable variety. His goal was an edible soybean that was not only high in protein, but also tasty, a beautiful green color and with sufficient natural disease-resistance that it could be grown without the use of chemicals. Over many years, he developed many varieties, among them Verde and Emerald, which are still grown today. He lived to see his concerns about the dangers of agricultural chemicals validated and to see edible soybeans enjoyed throughout the world.

Born in Burton, Ohio, in 1916, he graduated from Burton High School in a class of 12 students. He earned his bachelor's degree in botany from Kent State University, his master's degree in ecology from Ohio State University and had begun work on his doctorate when World War II intervened.  While in the U. S. Army, he worked at the medical laboratory at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Ind.  After his honorable discharge from the Army, he returned to Ohio State University to continue working on his Ph.D. in plant pathology. 

While at Camp Atterbuy, he met Lois Lang, and they were married in 1945. 

After his retirement from the University of Delaware in 1977, they moved to Bradenton, Fla., where they lived for many years.  They became avid croquet players and competed in several tournaments. They also enjoyed attending concerts at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.  Dr. Crittenden had a great love of music in general and of opera in particular, and he had a beautiful baritone voice that contributed to his college glee clubs and the Newark Methodist Church choir. They moved to Indianapolis in 2004 to be closer to family.

Dr. Crittenden is survived by his daughter, Celeste Pechette, of Indianapolis; his son, Jim Crittenden, of Grand Junction, Colo.; three grandchildren; and one great granddaughter.  He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years.

A funeral service will be held at 4 p.m., Monday, Feb. 6, at the Heidelberg United Methodist Church in Corydon, Ind. Visitation will be held from 3-4 p.m. 

Contributions in Dr. Crittenden's memory may be made to the Employee Appreciation Fund, The Forum at the Crossing Healthcare Center, 8505 Woodfield Crossing Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46240.

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