They gathered from far and wide on Nov. 19 in Gainesville, FL, to sing Happy Birthday to the grand old man of Horticulture, Dr. Norman F. Childers, who is celebrating his 100th year.
Doc Childers is one of the great horticulturists and teachers of the 20th century, and has been for his whole career the fruit grower’s greatest advocate. American Fruit Grower Editor Dick Meister was there to congratulate Dr. Childers with a toast from American Fruit Grower and fruit growers everywhere who have benefited immeasurably from his counsel, advice, and research.
Childers edited numerous books, which he says were a labor of love and his gift to students and growers. They include “Modern Fruit Science,” “Fruit Nutrition,” “The Peach,” “The Pear,” “The Strawberry,” and his last book, which he did at age 94, “The Blueberry.”
For 20 years he was head of the Department of Horticulture at Rutgers and when he retired in 1981, he moved to the University of Florida where he became adjunct professor and taught a university-wide course on fruits for the back yard, which brought in more than 300 students to his classes, and converted some to the study of horticulture.
He helped train more than 70 graduate students and wants to be remembered for the students he has taught and worked with. To help graduate students he has established scholarships and endowments for their support, which will extend past his lifetime.