It's been a sad few weeks for the alumni, faculty and friends of the Penn State turfgrass program, as they have been mourning the death of Paul Heller, Ph.D. (pictured here in the blue shirt, alongside another Penn Stater, Robert Walker, during a visit to St. David's GC in Wayne, Pa.). Heller was a longtime professor of entomology in the program who died on Jan. 18 after a long bout with colon cancer. He was 61.
Shortly after Heller's passing, we heard from Henry Wetzel, Ph.D., a former student of Heller's who now works as a turfgrass consultant based out of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He's assisting us in putting together a short obituary for Heller that we'll publish in the March issue of GCM, and sent along a remembrance of Heller that he wrote for the Philadelphia GCSA's March newsletter. We thought our blog would be a great place for folks to get a more-detailed sense of what Heller meant to the Penn State family, so we're pleased to present Wetzel's thoughts today.
I was deeply saddened to learn of the recent passing of Dr. Paul Heller, Professor of Entomology at The Pennsylvania State University. I first met Paul in grade school as a tag-a-long with my father at St. David's G.C. Reflecting back, little did I know that Paul was instilling in me the basic principles of integrated pest management (IPM) needed to make the best management decisions for turfgrass. I have fond memories of Paul and Bob Walker visiting St. David's while I was in high school, establishing and evaluating experimental or demonstration insect management plots. If Paul was tied up with teaching or extension responsibilities, Bob visited and collected data with Dad, but typically they visited as a team.