Memorial service planned for former plant science chair Gary Ritenour

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Memorial service planned for former plant science chair Gary Ritenour

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 24, for Dr. Gary L. Ritenour, a former Fresno State plant science department chairperson, professor and campus farm manager.

The service will be held at 2 p.m. at First Church of God in Fresno (3920 N. First St.) for Ritenour, 78, who passed away peacefully on Jan. 10 in Fresno while surrounded by family.

He taught courses at Fresno State for 30 years in plant science, agronomy, plant protection, plant health, applied statistics and biometrics. He joined the department faculty in 1969 and was widely respected as a weed control expert and mentor for student research projects.

He also served as the college’s director of agricultural operations (1991-1997), chairperson of the plant science mechanized agriculture department (1989-1991) and director of crop production and protection center (1986-1989).

He received the University’s Outstanding Teaching and Counseling Award (1978), the Salgo Noren Outstanding Teacher Award (1979) and the Meritorious Performance and Professional Promise Faculty Award (1986).

He was honored with the professor emeritus title at the 1999 campus commencement ceremony.

“Gary will always be remembered for his accessibility, hands-on labs, evaluation trials and weed walks that incorporated diverse campus production venues,” said Mahlon Hile, Fresno State plant science professor emeritus. “If you see his picture, he is invariably working or interacting with students. His legacy is reflected by the large cadre of weed scientists, farm managers, consultants and industry representatives that were his former students and by their ability to incorporate theory into practical applications and problem solving.”

A well-known crop production and agricultural chemical consultant, Ritenour conducted research on herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, defoliants and surfactant type additives for weed control and phytotoxicity of important crop species. His primary source of funding came from industry and private organizations that helped support summer herbicide screening trials by undergraduate and graduate weed science students.

He published his work in professional journals and presented his work at many conferences, including the California Weed Conference and the Mexican National Congress of Weed Science. He co-authored chapters in several books on weed control in California.

He was a member of several professional societies, including the Weed Science Society of America, California Weed Conference, American Society of Agronomy and the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology.

Born in Warsaw, Indiana, Ritenour was raised on dairy farms and received a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University (1960), a master’s degree in agronomy from University of California, Davis (1962) and a doctorate in plant physiology from UC Davis (1964). After conducting post-doctoral research at the University of Illinois, he moved to Fresno in 1966 to work as a University of California farm adviser for three years, then joined the Fresno State faculty.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Margaret Hinshaw, son Mark Ritenour, daughter Connie Yee, four siblings and five grandchildren.

Mark Ritenour, a 1989 Fresno State botany graduate, is a University of Florida associate professor in postharvest physiology and handling. Connie Yee graduated from Fresno State with a psychology degree in 1991.

For more information on Dr. Gary Ritenour’s life and a link to send flowers, visit JC Ritenour flowers.