David Curwen, an emeritus professor of horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, died of cancer Sunday, Aug. 23 in Custer, Wis. at the age of 63.
Curwen was born in Ridgewood, N.J. and earned his master”s and doctorate from Pennsylvania State University. He joined the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in 1963 and held a joint appointment with UW-Extension.
Although Curwen frequently taught on campus during his 30-year career, he worked mainly at the College”s Hancock Agricultural Research Station in central Wisconsin. There he exemplified the Wisconsin idea, conducting research and extension programs on potato and vegetable crops for growers and processors.
Curwen helped develop the Wisconsin irrigation scheduling program and the integrated pest management program, two efforts that received national recognition. His research focused on farming practices that protect soil and water resources while improving the profitability of potato and vegetable growers. Curwen”s extension programs helped the potato and vegetable industry control wind erosion, improve irrigation management, protect ground water, reduce pesticide use and improve marketing opportunities. He was instrumental in developing the Langlade County Research Station.
In the mid-1970s, Curwen recognized the emerging conflict between the expanding industry and the concerns of Wisconsin communities over environmental and ground water problems. Curwen helped communities recognize the industry”s value while working with agricultural interests to address environmental concerns. His effort led to a more sustainable future for the potato and vegetable industry in central Wisconsin.
Curwen contributed to more than 100 scientific publications, 70 extension publications and numerous computer programs. He led discussions on countless topics at state, regional and national meetings. Curwen was active in several professional groups, including the Potato Association of America where he served as secretary from 1985 to 1995. The PAA includes research, extension and industry professionals from North and South America.
Curwen received many honors from community, state and grower groups. He maintained a close advisory relationship with the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association throughout his career and while retired. He was inducted into the WPVGA Hall of Fame this March, an honor reserved for those who have had a lifelong impact on the association.
Funeral services were held at the Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1300 Main Street, in Stevens Point, Wis. on Wednesday, Aug. 26. Memorials may be made to Portage County Hospice Care or the Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Curwen is survived by his wife Barbara, of Custer; children Douglas Curwen of Plover, Wis., Jennifer Szerlog of Eugene, Ore., Evalee Kunkel of Eau Claire, Wis., Lori Falkner of Sheldon, Iowa, D. Lynn Pelzin of Spencer, Wis., and Donald Johnson of Stevens Point; 17 grandchildren; and brother Peter Curwen of Ballston Spa, N.Y.