Former Hastings and Ardsley resident Richard C. Staples passed away on Friday, Jan. 15, at age 95, in upstate Ithaca.
Dick and his identical twin brother, Harry, were born in Hinsdale, Ill., on Jan. 29, 1926. Both were Eagle Scouts and both were drafted into the service during World War II, at age 18. Harry went to the Army, Dick to the Navy, where he served as a radioman in the Pacific.
Under the G.I. Bill, Dick received a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State in 1950. He then became a graduate student in plant biochemistry at Columbia University, as well as part of Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in Yonkers. Soon after starting his graduate work, Dick was called up by the Naval reserves to serve two years on a ship in the Mediterranean during the Korean War. He returned to Columbia in 1952.
In February 1954, he met his future wife, Mildred (Durdik.) They married in August.
Dick completed his Ph.D. in 1957. His thesis dealt with carbon metabolism of the bean rust fungus, which became his life’s work. Post-doctoral students from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Thailand, India, Japan, and Israel worked with him at BTI. In addition, he traveled to various countries for hands-on work.
From 1975-77, Dick was policy analyst for the federal Office of Science and Technology. He received a Senior U.S. Humboldt Award in 1981. He conducted research in Aachen, Germany from 1982-83, and in Konstanz the following year.
In 1992, when Dick ended his work at BTI, which had relocated to Cornell University’s campus in 1979, he was named the George L. McNew Distinguished Professor, Emeritus. He then did further work in Geneva (N.Y.) Agricultural Research as an adjunct professor of plant pathology.
Dick’s hobby was science, which he continued until Covid-19 closed the doors of BTI and Cornell to non-essential persons in 2020.
Dick’s twin brother died 20 years ago. Dick leaves behind his wife of 66 years, three children, and four grandchildren.
Send memorial donations in his name to BTI, 533 Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14853.