2007 Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Ron Perry

Dr. Ron Perry began his career at Michigan State University in 1980 as a tree fruit extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture. He conducted research on tree fruit rootstocks, soil relations, high-density orchard development and management, and ground floor management in sustainable orchard systems. Dr. Perry initiated and conducted the popular MSU Fruit Schools for over 15 years, which provided training for over 800 growers from Michigan and other midwestern states. He served as Executive Secretary of the International Dwarf Fruit Tree Association from 1986-1989, and he was Educational Coordinator for the Michigan State Horticultural Society from 1994-1999. 

In October 2000, Dr. Perry became Acting Chairperson of MSU’s Department of Horticulture and was named Chairperson in March 2002. As Department Chair he served on the Michigan State Horticultural Society Board as an Ex- Officio Board Member. He completed his service as Chairperson this past July. While serving in this position, Dr. Perry was committed to seeing the department serve the needs of Michigan’s fruit and vegetable industry, as well as the state’s nursery and landscape and floriculture industries. He formed the first Horticulture External Advisory Committee to provide improved dialogue with industry and public horticulture stakeholders. He regularly met with the boards of industry organizations. He encouraged the development of MSU’s Student Organic Farm and CSA. In a time of tight budgets, Dr. Perry provided leadership in getting key faculty positions filled, notably in vegetable production, viticulture and post harvest physiology. 

Ron Perry grew up in the garlic capital of California, Gilroy, on an apricot, cherry, prune and walnut ranch. He attended Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, California, receiving a B.S. in Fruit Production in 1969. He then served for three years in the U.S. Army where he received a commission as an officer in the Medical Service Corps. Following his Army service, Ron worked as a fruit research technician and lecturer in the Department of Horticulture Sciences at Texas A&M University, where he concurrently completed the requirements for Masters and PhD degrees in Horticulture. As a research associate at Texas A&M, he established wine grape variety trials throughout the state and conducted studies regarding potential sites for wine grape production in that state. 

Dr. Perry will be returning to the faculty as a Professor and will teach, conduct research and perform outreach in fruit and wine grape production. 

For his leadership as Department Chair over the past seven years and his career of research, extension and teaching at MSU, the Michigan State Horticultural Society with its Distinguished Service Award and the Michigan Vegetable Council with its Master Farmer Associate Award are recognizing Dr. Ron Perry.

Bernard Herman

Bernard Herman was born and raised on his family’s fruit farm in Bainbridge Township, south of Coloma. He was the fifth generation on the family farm. He served three years in the military in WWII before returning home to the farm. In 1950 he married Helen Dailey, the youngest daughter of William Dailey, a well-known farmer in the area. They bought 60 acres next to his family’s farm and farmed primarily tree fruit. The Herman’s have six children, all born during the 1950’s. 

The farm expanded during the 1960’s as he bought neighboring farms and added them to the original farm. He also started a nursery company with his father-in-law, growing fruit trees. The nursery was known as Dailey, Matthews & Herman. They sold trees throughout the United States for the next two decades. 

Bernard was a director of the Millburg Growers Exchange and one of the founding members of Michigan Peach Sponsors. He also joined the National Peach Council and attended many of the annual winner conventions across the country. In the 1970’s he was one of three elected to the Michigan Board of Directors of Pro Fac Cooperative and served 12 years on the board. During this period of time he also had as many as four of his children in college or postgraduate work. Bernard is a member of the Knights of Columbus and attends the Watervliet Catholic Church. He has served on the Watervliet Community Hospital Board. 

In the 1980’s Bernard “officially retired” while continuing to work every day on the farm. His son, Joe, relates this story: the day dad officially turned over the reins to me he came out of the house that morning, as usual, and told me, “I’m going to work every day doing what I see needs to be done. I don’t want anything to do with the help, and I’m not taking orders from you.” A man of his word, and a man of few words, he has kept this promise for over twenty years now! No one could have a better example as a father and a grandfather. The Herman’s have 13 grandchildren. 

The Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the Distinguished Service Award to Bernard Herman, a life member of MSHS, for his many years of service to the Fruit Industry.

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