2021 Distinguished Service Awards

Ed Oxley

Ed Oxley came from a farming background in Lawton, MI.  He married his wife Phyllis 58 years ago and they raised three sons.  The two older, Chris and Rick, have joined him as partners on the farm, while the youngest, Keith, graduated from Western Michigan University with a teaching degree.  The oldest granddaughter has also joined the farm with an Associates Degree of Applied Science from Lake Michigan College.  Ed also works closely with his daughter-in-law, Nancie Oxley, the head winemaker and Vice President of St. Julian Wine Company.

Ed and Phyllis bought their first farm of 50 acres in the village of Lawton in 1967 and picked their first grape crop that fall.  Since then, they have continued adding properties, some of which are among the first vineyards planted in Lawton in the year 1868!  They presently farm 1400 acres, of which they have 673 acres of grapes consisting of 24 different varieties and 200 acres of tart cherries.  The remaining acres are row crops, open ground, and woods.  They planted their first wine grapes in 1970 and that first block has continued to be maintained by Ed for the last 25 years for research by the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.  Ed also works with the Department of Entomology providing blocks of grapes for IPM work and doing the spray programs for them.  He worked extensively with Dr. Ron Perry of MSU as one of the first adaptors in high density tart cherries.  Ed has innovated by building his own equipment, including sprayers, harvesters, and gondolas.

Ed’s past positions include being President and Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan Grape Society, at 35-year elected official of the National Grape Cooperative, National Grape Cooperative Board of Directors, Welch Foods, Inc. Board of Directors, FHA Board of Directors, SW MI Research and Extension Service Site Selection and Development Committee, Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and past President of Fruit Hill Growers.

Presently, Ed is a 50-year member of the National Grape Cooperative, member of the Van Buren County Farm Bureau, member of Fruit Hill Growers and on the Board of Directors of St. Julian Wine Company, the oldest and largest winery in the state.

Ed enjoys traveling, especially to Australia and New Zealand visiting the different wine growing areas, as well as spending time at the family hunting camp in the U.P.

The Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the 2021 Distinguished Service Award to Ed Oxley.

Dr. Larry Gut

Larry Gut was born in southern California and spent his childhood and his undergraduate college years in the state. His first experience in agriculture was working in a California almond orchard to help pay for college. As a biology student at Chico State, Larry was inspired to join the field of integrated pest management (IPM) after reading Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”. He decided to dedicate his life to helping growers find sustainable solutions to managing pests. Larry received his PhD in Entomology from Oregon State University in 1985. He had the good fortune of being mentored by Dr. Peter Westigard who taught him that working closely with growers through on-farm research projects was the best way to inspire change. In addition, he quickly found tree fruit growers were great collaborators and friends.

Larry met and married Kathleen, in 1991, and they have four children. None of them followed in in his path working with bugs, but all have successful careers. Two daughters live in Washington, Amy is an emergency medicine doctor and Allison is a lawyer. A third daughter, Clarrissa, is a teacher working and living in Malaysia. The youngest, their son Tommy, works in supply change management for a company that is headquartered in New Jersey.

Since arriving in Michigan in 1997 to be a Professor and Specialist in Tree Fruit Entomology at Michigan State University, Gut’s program has contributed to a foundation that has allowed the tree fruit industries in the state, as well as nationally and internationally, to respond to changes in the availability and efficacy of insecticides in a proactive manner. His team of students and collaborators have developed novel insights into how moths communicate using sex pheromones, then used this knowledge to design more effective, economical and environmentally friendly strategies to protect Michigan’s tree fruit industries.

Scientists and growers around the world have been keen to learn more about his research and implementation programs, inviting Gut to share his expertise in many international venues. New invasive pests have recently threatened Michigan orchard crops, and Larry has been at the forefront of monitoring the response to invasion by these pests and developing novel strategies to management them while maintaining IPM programs.

Throughout his career, Larry has been deeply committed to his Extension mission, communicating his research findings through numerous publications and presentations. He also has focused considerable attention on training the next generation of tree fruit entomologists, mentoring seven postdocs, eight doctoral candidates and 10 master’s students. For his commitment to delivering on all components of the land-grant mission, in 2021 Dr. Larry Gut was awarded Michigan State University’s prestigious William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.

Larry passed away on September 6, 2021.  He will be missed by all who knew him and worked with him.

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