Life Member - John V. Osmun

John Osmun, Ph.D.
February 22, 1918 to October 13, 2012

  • John Osmun (Emeritus professor, Entomology Department Head, PSEP Coordinator, Purdue University)
  • Honorary Member of AAPSE
  • John V. Osmun passed away in West Lafayette, Indiana, on 13 October 2012 at the age of 94. He was born on 22 February 1918 to Albert V. and Lena Lattimer Osmun in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he was raised. He married Dorothy “Dottie” Morley Osmun on 11 July 1942, and later adopted a daughter. Dottie preceded him in death in 1999. John was destined to be an entomologist. His first memory of insects was reaching out from his perambulator to take a caterpillar from his older brother. He became a passionate insect collector, and at the age of 13, he learned an important lesson about the dangers of pesticides. While hiking in the Massachusetts woods, his buddies found him passed out on the trail. John didn’t realize that the killing jar in his pocket, charged with potassium cyanide, had cracked when he slipped and fell earlier that day. He was taken to a local doctor who found nothing to treat and released him. John continued to have persistent headaches until days later, when another doctor figured out what happened and eventually treated the acid burns on his leg—scars John carried proudly his entire life. John earned a B.S. from Massachusetts State College (now the University of Massachusetts) in 1940, an M.A. in biology working on Drosophila genetics from Amherst College in 1942, and a Ph.D. in Entomology based on termites and insecticides from the University of Illinois in 1956, while he was a member of the faculty at Purdue. He joined the U.S. Army in 1942, and for three years was the Chief Entomologist in the First Army Command stationed in Governor’s Island, NY. Following the war, he worked for Merck Chemical Company as a research entomologist developing and testing new insecticides. There he met Bill Buettner, an owner of a pest control company and executive secretary of the National Association of Exterminators and Fumigators (later the National Pest Management Association). In 1948, J.J. Davis, then head of the Department of Entomology at Purdue University and close friend of Bill Buettner, courted John to join the faculty as assistant professor. He was hired to develop a new curriculum in Urban and Industrial Pest Management—the first in the U.S.—and teach the courses. He became department head after finishing his Ph.D. in 1956 and served in that capacity until 1972. During his tenure as department head, the depart ment experienced tremendous growth and laid the foundation for the present department. John took leave from Purdue from 1973- 75 to work in Washington, D.C., first with the USDA Cooperative States Research Service, and later as director of operations in the Office of Pesticide Programs for EPA. He returned to Purdue and the Department of Entomology in 1975 and served as the coordinator of the Purdue pesticide programs until he retired in 1987 as Professor Emeritus. During his career, John served on and led many national committees, task forces, and commissions associated with pesticide education and training. He was an active member of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) for half a century. He served as president of the North Central Branch in 1964, but made his biggest contributions at the national level, where he served as a member on the Insecticide Terminology Committee (1963) and the Governing Board (1970-73), and held chairmanships of the Resolution (1956), Finance (1956), and Professional Training, Standards and Status (PTSS, 1968-71) committees. As chairman of the PTSS, he helped lead the formation of the American Registry of Professional Entomologists (ARPE) in 1970, and as a self-governing and self-sustaining functional unit of ESA in 1975. He served as the second president of ARPE in 1978. He was founder, member, president in 1958 and Distinguished Award winner in 1972 of Phi Chi Omega. He was an honorary member of the National Pest Management Association and six state pest management associations, and Fellow of the Indiana Academy of Science. He received the Distinguished Service Award of ARPE (1980), was elected an Honorary Member (1985) and Fellow (1991) of the Entomological Society of America, named Professional of the Year by Pest Control Technology magazine (1991), and received the University of Massachusetts Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award (1995). He was an inaugural inductee into the Pest Control Hall of Fame in 1997. John’s fondness for Purdue alumni in entomology spawned the establishment in 1987 of the annual alumni recognition award known as the “John V. Osmun Professional Achievement Award in Entomology.” His distinguished career also led alumni and friends to establish the J.V. Osmun endowed professorship in the Department of Entomology. Few can claim to have had so much impact on the department, the discipline of entomology, and the urban pest management industry. It was somehow fitting that the National Pest Management Association held their annual meeting the same week as John’s funeral. He leaves a legacy in many areas, but his attention and dedication to students and alumni was exceptional. John is survived by his second wife, Obituaries John V. Osmun 1918–2012 Downloaded from by guest on 13 March 2018 126 American Entomologist • Summer 2013 Dortha Parker Osmun, and his daughter, Jodi Pickart. He was preceded in death by a brother, Kenneth Osmun, and granddaughter, Jill Suzanne Pickart.   Published by J. Steve Yaninek and Christian Y. Oseto -- American Entomologist • Volume 59, Number 2 - Summer 2013.
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Updated on: Monday, March 12, 2018

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