Seedsmen Hall of Fame
Honoring Horticulturalists

Oscar Harris Pearson

Oscar Harris Pearson, noted plant breeder, died Saturday, July 3, 2004 peacefully at home in Portsmouth, Rhode Island at the age of 102. Dr. Pearson was born in Stratham, New Hampshire to Frank H. Pearson and Grace E. Gowen on January 17, 1902. He was an important contributor to U. S. agriculture and is well known for his contribution to the development of vegetable crops, particularly, the 'Pearson' and 'Pearson Improved' tomato as well as the hybrid sweet corn called 'Butter and Sugar'.  He also authored and co-authored several books and bulletins.

He graduated from the Exeter, New Hampshire high school as valedictorian of the class of 1918. He received a B.S. (1923) and an M.S. (1925) in Agriculture from the University of New Hampshire. He received a Ph.D. in Horticulture from the University of California, Davis (1928) and has been a life- long member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

After receiving his Ph.D., he held the position of Junior Olericulturist at the University of California, Davis, until 1933. He moved east and became a Plant Breeder for the Eastern States Farmers Exchange (Agway) in West Springfield, Massachusetts. He was promoted to Head of Seed Research and supervised their Feeding Hills, Massachusetts trials farm until 1959. He returned to California to become Associate Director of Seed Research at Seed Research Specialists (SRS), Hollister, California. He became Manager of Seed Research and Development when Seed Research Specialists was bought by Ferry-Morse Company. In 1967 he retired from Ferry-Morse Company and became Seed Research Associate in the Plant Breeding Department at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York). In the 1970’s he split his time between Cornell University and Dakar, Senegal, Africa, where he was consultant to Bud Senegal, a Dutch company developing vegetable crops for the Common Market. After his wife, Helen, died in 1993 he closed his office at Cornell University and permanently retired. He carried on an active correspondence with friends and business associates.

In 1929, he married Helen Ruth Monosmith (PhD, Genetics, University of California, Berkeley 1928). They shared many common scientific interests as they raised their six children. He is predeceased by his wife, Helen, (1993) and his son, Charles Pearson (2001). He is survived by 5 children, Robert Pearson (PhD, Portland, OR), David Pearson (MD, Warwick, RI), Dorothy Ann Proctor (RN, Portsmouth, RI), George Pearson (Mojave, CA) and Sandra Pearson Shlapak (Chatsworth, CA) and by his sister, Georgiana Pearson (Exeter, NH), 11 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild as well as several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service was held Saturday, October 2, 2004 at the Stratham Community Church, Stratham, New Hampshire. Memorial donations may be made to the Kaplan Research Fund, Swedish Foundation, 747 Broadway, Seattle, WA in the name of his son, Charles Pearson, or to the ALS Therapy Development Foundation, 215 First St., Cambridge, MA 02142 in the name of his grandson, Stephen L. Proctor.

Compiled by his family

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