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GEORGE HENRY HEFTING September I, I907-Apri;l 29, 1988 BY ELLIS B. COWLING, ARTHUR KELMAN, AND HARRY R. POWERS, JR. GEORGE HENRY HEPTING grew up in the city environment of Brooklyn, but early in his life he developed a deep love for and scientific interest in forestry. He became America's most skilled scientist in the theory and practice of forest pathology. He studied how long-lived forest trees, unlike most plants, cope with the Tong-term changes in their biological, physical, and chemical environments. He devoted his remarkably energetic life to learning, understanding, and teaching how trees survive disease stresses induced by biotic and abiotic agents in forest nurseries, as individual trees, in young sapling stands, in naturally regenerated and planted stands, in old-growth forests, and in landscapes and watersheds. Hepting focused his innovative spirit, curiosity, and high intelligence in seeking the ways to use this under- standing to develop practical management practices that would reduce or minimize disease losses and deterioration of wood in service. From the research he and close cowork- ers completed have come many tangible benefits. Through 1 · 1~ r 1 1 , 1 , · , · · ,1 · 1 1 out his life, he was devoted to maintaining the rich her~- tage of this country's forests and wildlife resources in national, state, and city parks and trees in residential, commercial, and recreational landscapes resources that are important not only economically but also for the spirit and aesthetic quality of life in America. 161
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62 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS George Hepting was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September I, 1907. After attending public schools in Brook- lyn, he completec! his unclergracluate studies in forestry at Cornell University in 1929. One of Hepting's most inspir- ing unclergracluate teachers was a plant pathologist, H. H. Whetzel. In an unpublished! autobiography Hepting clescribec! how he cleciclec! to become a forest pathologist: Two of my required courses were general plant pathology and forest pa- thology. Through these courses I came under the influence of Professor H. H. Whetzel. I soon found myself developing a strong interest in his courses. The ills of trees, like the ills of mankind, fascinated me. I was astounded to learn that in the short space of twenty-five years a disease (chestnut blight) carried from the Orient had started in our chestnut trees in New York and had swept completely through the eastern states to Alabama, on its way exterminating this valuable species. White pine blister rust, the Dutch elm disease, and many others were well on their way to destroying millions of dollars worth of timber and street trees in a matter of a few years. Here was something for me. Here was a field of work in which a man would work with trees. I discovered that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had a Division of Forest Pathology with about fifty technical men scattered the length and breadth of the country doing research on tree diseases, and that an occasional state or university had a man or two who spent some time on tree diseases. This handful of men armed with the limited knowl- edge of a new profession was trying to solve the multitude of problems in forest pathology. In addition to the hundreds of native diseases that did a tremendous amount of cumulative damage, serious new major diseases were appearing in the country at an alarming rate of about one every five years. I resolved to be a forest pathologist, if I could find a place in this tiny field. Professor Whetzel encouraged me and offered me valuable assistance. This time I knew the kind of work that I would be doing and that I would like it. Prior to the completion of his Ph.D. at Cornell in 1933, Hepting joiner! a tiny cacire of scientists in the U.S. Depart- ment of Agriculture that was charger! with protecting the forests of America against disease. He remainec! with the Division of Forest Disease Research after he receiver! his doctorate on a forest pathology problem en c! rose through
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GEORGE HENRY HEFTING 163 the ranks from field! assistant in 1931, through chief of the Division of Forest Disease Research at the Southeastern Forest Experiment Station from 1953 to 1961, to principal research scientist affiliates! with the Forest Service's Washington of- fice from 1962 to 1971 (assignee! mainly to the Southeast- ern Forest Experiment Station in Asheville, North Caro- lina). He retiree! from the Forest Service as chief plant pathologist in 1971. From 1967 through 1984 he servec! as a visiting professor in the Department of Plant Pathology en c! the School of Forest Resources at North Carolina State University. He cliec! on April 20, 1988. During much of his life he hac! to cope with a series of illnesses requiring surgery en c! hospital stays with continu- ing complex meclical problems en c! twice ciaily medications that wouIc! have cirastically limiter! the productivity of most inclivicluals. Few people other than close colleagues en c! OCR for page 164
64 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS The Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University maintains a complete file of his nearly 200 scientific publications, his extensive library of nearly two thousanc! reprints en c! books, en c! copies of the fascinating en c! often humorous autobiographical resume of the first half of his career. The range of problems in which Hepting became involves! represents a remarkable scope in terms of the diversity of fungi involves! en c! complexity of the factors to be consicI- erec! in cleveloping effective means of reducing Tosses. Only a few examples of his many contributions will be notes! in detail. Hepting's first research project was on heart rot of forest trees. He cleterminec! the impact of fire scars, basal wounds, and stump sprouts on infection and spread of decay in many species of trees. He was the first to describe the remarkable mechanisms with which trees restrict the clevelopment of clecay en c! cliscoloration in stems to "tissues extant at time of wounding." This phenomenon is now known as compart- mentalization. His work on the hardwood! decays en c! their origins resulted in a Farmer's Bulletin that established a set of sound principles for effective disease management of eastern hardwood! forests. This bulletin was user! extensively by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a guicleline for man- agement of federal forests, and it still serves as a basic guide for foresters in management of hardwood! forests. Before and during World War II, he studied fungal dis- colorations in feller! timber en c! lumber of southern pines. He also quantifier! the impact of cliscolorations en c! clecay on the strength of wood veneers used in military aircraft. In his unpublished autobiography, he described his novel experiences in this new area of research: We in forest pathology did not have to look for war problems; they fell into our laps from all directions. Wood was a major war material and we in the
GEORGE HENRY HEFTING 165 Division of Forest Pathology had the greatest fund of information on wood's defects of any group in the nation. We knew about wood decay and how to prevent it. Uncler his direction the tiny group of men en c! women in his division immecliately shifter! the emphasis of their work from tree disease investigations to studies of problems of wool! in service. The Navy en c! Coast Guarc! wan tee! infor- mation on the prevention of clecay in wooden boats en c! they also planner! to built! some wooden airplanes en c! glicI- ers. The Army was aireacly buiTcling all-wooc! training planes en c! was considering wool! gliclers. Furthermore, they hac! costly wool! clecay problems in builclings, truck bellies, en c! bridge timbers. By the time of World War II, there was a critical shortage in aircraft metals. Most of the available light metals were to go into combat planes bombers and fighters so that the great bulk of thousands of training planes would have to be made of wood. Gliders, of which we were to require a great number, were also to be made largely of wood. Yellow poplar, one of the most important aircraft veneer species, is subject to many discolorations in the living tree. Early in the war, most of this colored poplar wood was being discarded from the aircraft grades on suspicion that it was weak. Nobody knew for sure whether or not it was weak, but the manufacturers did not trust it, and the Army did not like the looks of it. I was asked to undertake a study to determine whether the discolorations so common in yellow poplar really indicated decreased strength of wood. I immediately went to several veneer mills and obtained hundreds of samples, including all of the common discolorations and normal-colored wood as well. We carefully matched each discolored stick with an adjacent normal-colored stick and sent the samples to the Forest Products Laboratory for testing. When the results were analyzed, we found that the great bulk of discolored wood was normal in strength, and that only browns, indicating rot, were weak. These results were released promptly to the veneer industry, the aircraft industry, and the Army. The harmless discolorations were then accepted. The production of poplar aircraft veneer went up 25%. Wooden gliders were being turned out in quantity. Since our training fields each had from one hundred to several hundred aircraft, space to house
66 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS these great numbers of airplanes could not easily be provided. Therefore, they generally remained in the open all of the time, exposed to the ele- ments. Since most of the kinds of wood used in aircraft were known to decay readily under conditions of high moisture and warmth, and since there was no tendency among manufacturers to treat this wood chemically against decay, it seemed to us that some serious decay problems might develop in our Army airplanes. In December of 1942 I asked my chief, if he would let me go into the field and study the problem of deterioration in wooden military airplanes and gliders. He agreed that sooner or later the armed services would run into trouble from decay in aircraft, so he as- signed me to this work and ordered me to report to the Army Air Forces Materiel Command at Wright Field, to make arrangements for my surveys at Army fields. Hepting visited dozens of Army airfields in the East, South, en c! MicicIle West, checking the all-wooc! airplanes en c! wooden parts of others for signs of clecay. Subsequently Hepting en c! his group cliscoverec! a number of factors leacling to clecay problems en c! clevelopec! procedures to eliminate or reduce them. Technical orders were issued to improve strin- gency of inspection and cleaning of drains in all wood air- craft. Huncirecis of planes were grounclec! for repairs, en c! the prospects of serious accidents were consiclerably reclucecI. Reviser! specifications were macle for airplane manufactur- ers on improving the design of drainage systems. Thus, through the efforts of Hepting en c! his research group, the deterioration problems in wool! aircraft were correctec! early in the war. The importance of this major contribution to one phase of the war effort has not been fully recognized. Upon completion of this excursion into problems of clete- rioration en c! clecay of wool! products in the armor! ser- vices, Hepting en c! his staff clevotec! their research to a se- ries of problems affecting forest trees in the south. Littleleaf disease of southern pines prover! to be one of his greatest challenges. He organizer! research teams to in- vestigate different aspects of the problem and stimulated
GEORGE HENRY HEFTING 167 both industry en c! government to support these efforts. In the end, he cleterminec! that the little-leaf disease resultec! from a progressive deficiency of nitrogen inclucec! by a com- plex interaction among certain soil conditions, feecler-root pathogens, lancI-use practices, en c! stanc! density that clevel- opec! in many short-leaf pine stancis as the trees increasec! with age. A destructive wilt disease of mimosa began to cause high mortality in this species in North Carolina in the late 1930s. In Hepting's investigation of the problem he iclentifiec! the causal fungus as a previously unclescribec! species of Fusar~um, his report on these studies was one of the first descriptions of a tree disease causer! by a species in this taxonomic group. In the several clecacles that follower! it was not possible to clevelop a means of preventing the spreac! of this pathogen, en c! the disease essentially eliminatec! mimosa from the Dis- trict of Columbia to Alabama. In recognition that the only effective means of control was the clevelopment of resistant cultivars, Hepting en c! Richarc! Toole screener! thousands of mimosa genotypes after WorIc! War II en c! cliscoverec! a number of highly resistant selections. From these selections the cultivars "Charlotte" en c! "Tryon" were clevelopec! en c! patented. As requires! by law, the patent was assignee! to the Secretary of Agriculture, who releaser! it to the nursery tracle through the American Nurserymen's Association. Several clecacles after the release of these cultivars, they were still being wiclely plantecI, en c! they continue to be resistant to this day. Hepting en c! coworkers cliscoverec! a number of previ- ously unclescribec! diseases that were damaging southern tree species, inclucling the pitch-canker disease of southern pines, en c! iclentifiec! the specific causal fungi. Subsequently they fount! that pine trees inoculates! artificially with the pitch-canker fungus were stimulates! to incluce oleoresin
68 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS flow with clesirable results. This procedure was patentee! en c! user! commercially. When the oak wilt disease began to spreac! in the south- ern Unite c! State s , Hepting assume c! a le aclership role in a national effort to gain an unclerstancling of the biology of the pathogen en c! manner of dissemination. He clesignec! en c! supervisec! large-scare surveys to determine the extent of spreac! into Tennessee en c! western North Carolina. Dur- ing these efforts he cliscoverec! the role of mating types in the life history of the oak wilt fungus, a fincling that he consiclerec! one of his most personally satisfying scientific achievements. In micI-career Hepting hac! a key role in resolving a con- troversy involving the use of antibiotics for control of white pine blister rust. In the late 1950s a U.S. Forest Service technician, employoc! in the white pine blister-rust control project in Idaho, published a series of papers in which claims were macle that an antibiotic (Acticlione BR) sprayer! as a basal application on blister-rust cankers followed by a sec- onc! antibiotic (Phytoactin) conic! effectively prevent clevel- opment of the rust fungus. Hepting became very skeptical of these finclings. Studies were initiates! by members of his staff (Harry Powers en c! others) to determine inclepenclently the effectiveness of these compounds on white pines. In sharp contrast to the finclings in Idaho, Powers' results in- dicated that application of antibiotics might reduce sporu- lation of the rust fungus, but they clic! not eradicate the rust fungus in establishec! infections. Acticlione also was testec! in the Southeast for the control of fusiform rust, a clestruc- tive disease of southern pines similar to white pine blister rust in its effects on pine trees. Results obtained in these studies were also negative. In 1960 Hepting and a group of Forest Service adminis- trators and one non-Forest Service pathologist, Arthur
GEORGE HENRY HEFTING 169 Kelman, then on the faculty of North Carolina State Uni- versity, visitor! the establishec! test plots in Idaho en c! Wash- ington, inclucling areas where Phytoactin hac! been applier! by costly aerial sprays. In the course of this survey, it be- came clear that the prior claims for effectiveness of antibi- otic sprays conic! not be substantiated. In some plots evi- clence was fount! that a hyperparasite of the rust fungus (Tubercutina maxima) hac! become establishec! in rust can- kers en c! suppressed the growth of the rust fungus. Appar- ently the effects of the hyperparasite on the rust fungus in the cankers hac! been overIookoc! en c! mistakenly attributer! to the presumer! effects of the antibiotic. Basec! on these finclings en c! Hepting's insistence on the new! for the effec- tive experimental controls en c! proper design en c! interpre- tation of results, a major costly fecleral program was cliscon- tinuccI, resulting in savings of many millions of clollars. It shouIc! be notes! that initially Hepting was severely criti- cizec! for raising questions about this rust control program, which was wiclely praiser! as an innovative control measure clesignec! to save the highly valuable white pine stancis of the western Uniter! States. However, Hepting hac! the cour- age to persevere until the evidence was obtainer! to justify fully his conclusions that ciata on control lacked! valiclity. In his administrative role Hepting clirectec! pioneering research on annosus root rot, soil fumigations in forest nurs- eries, en c! the role of ozone en c! other photochemical oxi- ciants as causes of disease in forests. His 1963 paper on climate en c! forest diseases is consiclerec! the authoritative treatise on climatology en c! plant pathology. He clevelopec! the first computerizec! system for information retrieval in forestry en c! his 1971 text, "Diseases of Forest en c! Shacle Trees in the Uniter! States," provides the most comprehen- sive encyclopeclia of knowlecige on these topics. He wrote a definitive history of the failure of efforts to control chest
170 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS nut blight en c! of similar attempts to control the Dutch elm disease after these diseases were introclucec! into North America. In 1997, six years after retirement, he wrote with E. B. Cowling an historical resume of achievements en c! future progress in forest disease research. This publication also describes the impact of Hepting's contributions on the advancement of forest pathology, nationally en c! interna- tionally. On periodic visits to the campus while he hell! the post of visiting professor of forest pathology en c! forestry at North Carolina State University, he presented seminars en c! con- sultec! with graduate students en c! faculty. In these sessions he proviclec! encouragement, macle critical assessments of research in progress, en c! servec! as a wise mentor en c! valu- able source of knowlecige. Hepting consiclerec! this phase of his career one of the most rewarding experiences of his professional life. In the evaluations by graduate students of their contacts with Hepting, they ranker! their exposure to his wisdom en c! sharp wit as one of the highlights of their graduate education. He was a cofounder of the Southwicle Forest Disease Work- shop, which is still the outstanding forum for forest pa- thologists in this region. It proviclec! for the first time an opportunity for government, university en c! private inclus- try research scientists, en c! relater! workers, as well as graduate students, to share information on research in progress en c! to clevelop the personal relationships that foster progress in cooperative research programs. His leaclership in this en c! relater! activities resultec! not only in strengthening forest disease research in the U.S. Forest Service but also in the universities in the southern Uniter! States. The conference inclirectly hac! a role in the establishment en c! funcling of industry-sponsored graduate fellowships in forest entomol- ogy and pathology. Hepting also had an influential role in
GEORGE HENRY HEFTING 171 the increasec! participation of forest pathologists in inter- national forestry policy discussions en c! in the activities of the American Phytopathological Society, including the es- tablishment of the subject matter committee on forest pa- thology. He was an associate editor of Phytopathology en c! for a number of years was a member of the Eclitorial Boarc! of Annual Review of Phytopathology. He also servec! on several committees of the National Academy of Sciences en c! ecI- itec! the National Research Council text entitles! "Principles of Plant Disease Control." Hepting's achievements in forest pathology were recog- nizec! by many honors en c! awards. In 1969 he became the first forester electec! to the National Academy of Sciences. He also receiver! the Superior Service Awarc! of the U.S. Department ofAgriculture (1954) anc!the Barrington Move Awarc! for Outstanding Achievements in Forestry Research (1963~. He was electec! a fellow of the Society of American Foresters (1965) en c! of the American Phytopathological Society (1966~. He receiver! the first Southern Forest Pa- thologist Achievement Awarc! (1967), the U.S. Department of Agriculture Merit Awarc! for Achievement in Cost Recluc- tion for clevelopment of an effective electronic literature retrieval system for forest pathology ( 1 967), the Delta Air- lines "Flying Colonel" Awarc! for Service to Aviation (1972), the International Shacle Tree Conference "Authors Cita- tion Award" for his handbook on "Diseases of Forest en c! Shacle Trees in the Uniter! States ~ ~ 974), ant! the Weyerhaeuser Awarc! for Outstanding Historical Writing from the Forest History Society ~ ~ 974) . In the course of his career Hepting traveler! extensively en c! completer! research assignments in Europe, Puerto Rico, Haiti, en c! the U.S. Virgin Islancis. He also server! as a con- sultant to the forest products industries of New Zealanc! en c! Australia.
172 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS Few investigators in the forest sciences were able in a lifetime to make as many major contributions as Hepting clic! in solving diverse, complex problems. He hac! the abil- ity to identify primary causal factors en c! rapidity gain the depth of unclerstancling of disease situations that enablec! him to clevise practical approaches for management prac- tices. Long before the concepts of integratec! pest manage- ment became fashionable, Hepting emphasizec! the new! to integrate disease hazarc! evaluations en c! knowlecige of clis- ease development processes into economically and biologi- cally sounc! forest management systems. He also champi- onec! the new! for basic research as a foundation for practical unclerstancling en c! management of disease in forests. His role in the Timber Resources Review of 1953 also perma- nently changer! our perception of the nature en c! magni- tucle of disease Tosses in forests. Hepting was not only an effective leacler in terms of his specific administrative assignments, but he was also an ef- fective spokesperson for forest pathology en c! forestry in the Uniter! States. At the peak of his career he also became a recognizec! en c! influential international authority on for- estry in the broac! sense. In making an assessment of his career he stated: It seems to me that there can be few walks of life in which a man following a specific occupation would lead a more varied existence than he would as a forest disease researcher. Within this seemingly restricted field, I have, over a period of 20 years been a rock breaker, a timber cruiser, a bacteri- ologist, an aircraft technologist, a lumberjack, a pathologist, a statistician, and an administrator. My territory has, from time to time, included much of our forestland from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico and west to Texas and the Great Plains. He hac! a remarkable ability to stimulate en c! challenge coworkers en c! professional colleagues to clo their best, to see the larger picture, to share their ideas with others, and
GEORGE HENRY HEFTING 173 to help "make forest pathology pay." He was also willing to speak frankly en c! critically when he thought the occasion clemanclecI. In this connection he insistec! that his associ- ates maintain the same high stanciarcis of scientific integrity en c! quality that he always clemanclec! for himself in his own incliviclual research endeavors. For these en c! other personal qualities, he earnec! the high regarc! en c! creep respect of his coworkers en c! members of his profession. WE ACKNOWLEDGE WITH appreciation receipt of comments and letters from colleagues and former students who knew, appreciated, and were inspired by George Hepting. In particular we wish to thank the following individuals who shared their impressions of Dr. Hepting with us: Andrew Campbell, Alex Shigo, T. Kent Kirk, Robert Zabel, Arthur Verrall, Charles Berry, William Waters, Glenn Snow, Robert Patton, Tames Stewart, Tohn Skelly, Tohn Rishbeth, Kathleen Moore, and Arthur Schipper.
174 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 1935 Decay following fire in young Mississippi Delta hardwoods. U.S. Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin, no. 494. 1936 With D. J. Blaisdell. A protective zone in red gum fire scars. Phytopa- thology 26:62-67. 1937 With G. G. Hedgcock. Decay in merchantable oak, yellow poplar, and basswood in the Appalachian region. U.S. Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin, no. 570. 1938 With A. D. Chapman. Losses from heart rot in two short-leaf and loblolly pine stands. 7. For. 36: 1193-1201. 1939 A vascular wilt of the mimosa tree (Albizzia julibrissin). U.S. Depart- ment of Agriculture Circular, no. 535. 1942 With E. R. Roth and R. F. Luxford. The significance of the discol- orations in aircraft veneers: Yellow poplar. U.S. Department of Agriculture mimeo publication, no. 1375. Reducing losses from tree diseases in eastern forests and farm woodlands. U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers' Bulletin, no. 1887. 1943 With E. R. Roth. Origin and development of oak stump sprouts as affecting their likelihood to decay. J. For. 41:27-36. 1944 With A. A. Downs. Root and butt rot in planted white pine at Biltmore, North Carolina. 7. For. 42: 119-23.
GEORGE HENRY HEFTING 1945 175 Reserve food storage in short-leaf pine in relation to little-leaf dis- ease. Phytopathology 35: 106-19. With T. S. Buchanan and L. W. R. Jackson. Littleleaf disease of pine. U. S. Department of Agriculture Circular, no. 716. 1946 With E. R. Roth. Pitch canker, a new disease of some southern pines. 7. For. 44: 742-44. 1947 Stimulation of oleoresin flow in pines by a fungus. Science 105: 209. 1948 With E. R. Roth and E. R. Toole. Nutritional aspects of the little- leaf disease of pine. 7. For. 46:578-87. 1949 With E. R. Toole. Selection and propagation of Albizzia for resis- tance to Fusarium wilt. Phytopathology 39: 63-70. With G. M. Jemison. Timber stand improvement in the southern Appalachian region. U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication, no. 693. 1952 With E. R. Toole and J. S. Boyce, Jr. Sexuality in the oak wilt fun- gus. Phytopathology 42:438-42. 1953 With W. A. Campbell and T. L. Copeland. Managing short-leaf pine in littleleaf disease areas. Southeastern Forest Experiment Sta- tion Paper, no. 25. 1955 The current status of oak wilt in the United States. For. Sci. 1:95- 103. 1963 Climate and forest diseases. Annul Rev. Phytopathol. 1:31-50.
176 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS 1964 Damage to forests from air pollution 1965 . 7. For. 62:630-34. The INTREDIS register for world literature in forest pathology. In 1964 FAO/ICFRO Symposium on Internationally Dangerous For- est Diseases and Insects 2:1-8. 1968 Diseases of forest and tree crops caused by air pollutants. Phytopa- thology 58:1098-1101. 1974 Death of the American chestnut. 7. For. Hist. 18:60-67 1977 With E. B. Cowling. Forest Pathology: Unique features and pros- pects. Annul Rev. Phytopathol. 15:431-50.
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