IN MEMORIAM – LARRY WILDING (1934-2019)
An inspiration to family, friends and colleagues throughout the world, Lawrence “Larry” Paul Wilding passed away on January 12, 2019 after an unexpected brain aneurysm while surrounded by the family he loved, served, and led.
Larry was born in Winner, Tripp County, South Dakota on October 1,1934, the son of William Kasper Wilding, Jr and Ruth Inez Wilding. He was the last of four children with sister Betty Jane and brothers Billy and Kenny. He grew up in Winner, SD as a farm boy milking cows and making money for the family by taking the milk and cream to town to be sold. As a young boy Larry learned his well- known humble attitude and servant qualities from his father William, as well as how to fix things and “think outside the box”. He enjoyed performing science experiments, caring for animals and riding his horse, Smokey. Larry went to a country school and was taught by his sister in seventh grade. After graduating from Winner High school, he attended South Dakota State University, majoring in Soils and Crops.
It was during his time at South Dakota State that Larry met the love of his life, Gladys Dora Milne. They were married after graduation in 1956 and started their life together as Larry worked on his M.S. degree in Soils at South Dakota State, graduating in 1959. Their first child, Linda, was born during this time and Larry served faithfully in the National Guard. From there, he moved his little family to Urbana, IL, where he received a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1962. His daughter Doris and son Charles were born during this period. From there, Larry joined The Ohio State University Agronomy faculty in 1962 and worked on soil genesis and classification and clay mineralogy for fourteen years. His fourth child, David, was born in Columbus Ohio. Larry and Gladys were blessed with sixty-two years of marriage. Their enduring love was evident in all they did and was especially meaningful the last few years as Larry served beyond compare in his role of caregiver to Gladys.
In 1976, the family made their final move to Texas A&M University to join a vibrant Soil and Crop Science department until his retirement in 2003, after which he was bestowed the title of Professor Emeritus. While with Texas A&M Larry spent time around the world serving for several summers in Africa, traveling and speaking in China, and serving and leading national and international soil science societies. More specifically, he served as president of SSSA, member of several NRC/NAS Committees, and as co-chair of the 18th World Congress of Soil Science during which amazing friendships developed. Larry was extremely active in IUSS. He was a member of the committee that developed the structure for IUSS and was an Honorary Member. He received numerous other honors and awards. His career focused on pedology with over forty years of teaching and research experience in near-surface Earth processes. Larry was the major professor for forty-seven students who received their doctorate and master’s degrees. His expertise was evident in the fact that many of his former students hold influential positions throughout the world. His rich career included innumerable awards and writings in journals and books. He was known as a leader in the field of Pedology. In the last few years, the Wildings established a scholarship to demonstrate the importance of international experiences by providing international travel scholarships to full-time students pursuing a degree in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.
As a father and grandfather, Larry led by example. He was kind, wise, gentle, nurturing, and had an incredible work ethic. He modelled how to love others deeply by giving of himself to meet other’s needs. His children and grandchildren learned the importance of tithing by him passing out dollars for them to drop in the offering plate. Giving to and praying for the less fortunate taught them the importance of caring for all. Larry and Gladys enjoyed many years being involved and serving faithfully at First Presbyterian Church in Bryan.
Larry and Gladys enjoyed seeing the world and visited a significant number of countries, oftentimes with work related events, invitations, and speaking engagements. Frequent trips were made to South Dakota and Scotland to visit family and friends. Trips to New Hampshire, a second home, were especially enjoyable with the fall foliage and apples. These places and people were especially dear to them.
In his free time, Larry enjoyed woodworking and fixing things, where he taught his children and grandchildren to “Measure twice; cut once,” and “Spend five minutes thinking; save an hour of work.” He spent time gardening and at social clubs enjoying bridge and gourmet foods. He collected rocks, antiques, coins, and clocks and loved attending Aggie football and basketball games.
Larry is survived by his wife Gladys Wilding and his four children (Linda Kirschenman and spouse Terry, Doris Hermann and spouse Karl, Charles Wilding and spouse Laura, and David Wilding and spouse Michelle). He is also survived by his ten grandchildren (Mark, Stewart and spouse Lauren, Christine, Katie and spouse Luke, Susan, Scott and spouse Emily, Heather, Victoria, Grace, and Hope) who he loved richly, as well as numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews. Additionally, he is survived by his Spanish foreign exchange student, Ignacio Fernandez-Montez, who was like a son to him.
In the last few years, the Wildings established a scholarship to demonstrate the importance of international experiences by providing international travel scholarships to full-time students pursuing a degree in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. Donations to the Larry and Gladys Wilding International Student Travel Scholarship (#35065) can be made at: https://www.txamfoundation.com/give.aspx
Larry was a well renowned soil scientist, loving family man, serving husband, and great teacher to all. He walked this earth with incredible generosity and love for others. He will be deeply missed.
[From the obituary on https://www.hillierfuneralhome.com/tributes/Lawrence-Wilding amended by Donald Sparks, Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Marine Science and Policy Director, Delaware Environmental Institute]