Presented by Eldon Ortman
December 4, 2012
John Osmun born February 1918 at Amherst, Mass – his accent has followed him. He tells that he was destined to be an entomologist from childhood, a story he frequently shared he was petting a hornworm caterpillar when in a baby buggy.
He received his bachelors and masters degree at U of Mass. His favorite poet, Robert Frost, taught at U of Mass and he quotes him often. He met Dorothy in college and they married In 1942. During WW II he served as an entomologist stationed on Governors Island, NY.
In 1948 he came to Purdue as assistant professor. He took a brief leave and received a PhD at U of IL in 1956 and subsequently became Entomology Department Head at Purdue. He spent 1972-74 with EPA and USDA in Washington, DC.
His involvement and accomplishments were many. He developed the Urban and Industrial Pest Control Curriculum at Purdue. He was dedicated to enhancing the education, the professionalism of the Pest Control Industry. He worked at this relentlessly through University course development and in consultation with state associations and federal agencies.
A few examples of his service and involvement: 1. Chair – National Commission on Pesticide Training and Education. 2. A Founder - American Registry of Professional Entomologists. 3. Founder – Pi Chi Omega , National Honorary for Professional Excellence in Pest Control. 4. Fellow – Entomological Society of America. 5. Inaugural member of Pest Control Hall of Fame. 6. U of Mass distinguished alum achievement award.
He was an unselfish person, giving of himself to champion students and alumni. He created and endowed the Osmun Alumni Award, an annual award to recognize a distinguished Purdue entomology alumnus. It is interesting to note that John passed away during the twenty-second annual award activity and the centennial celebration of entomology at Purdue. With the return of alums for the event many had stopped to see him the days before he passed giving him a significant pleasure.
John enjoyed life and was involved in numerous areas outside his profession. Sang in quartet, “AgMen” who promoted science and answered questions at their performances. Long time Rotary member, past Board member and president, one of the founders of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
In closing – going back to his early days U of Mass and his favorite poet, Robert Frost – here is a poem he often quoted:
It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.
But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
An now having ridden out desire
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.
March 18, 2008 5