Oscar Harris Pearson 1902-2004
Noted Plant Breeder Oscar Harris Pearson (Doc) died Saturday, July 3, 2004 peacefully at
home in Portsmouth, RI at the age of 102. Oscar Pearson was born in Stratham, NH to Frank H.
Pearson and Grace E. Gowen on January 17, 1902. He was an important contributor to US
agriculture and is well known for his contribution to the development of vegetable crops, particularly,
the Pearson Tomato and Butter and Sugar Corn.
He graduated from the Exeter, NH 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, MA. He was promoted to Head of Seed Research
and supervised their Feeding Hills, MA trials farm until 1959. He returned to California to become
Associate Director of Seed Research at Seed Research Specialists (SRS), Hollister, CA. He
became Manager of Seed Research and Development when SRS was bought by FMC. In 1967 he
retired from FMC and became Seed Research Associate in the Plant Breeding Department at
Cornell University (Ithaca, NY). In the 1970s 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 is planned for Saturday, October 2, 2004 at the Stratham Community
Church, Stratham, NH. 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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