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February 2, 2008

Former Purdue Agriculture Dean Earl Butz dead at 98

Earl Butz
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Former Secretary of Agriculture and dean of Purdue University's College of Agriculture Earl Butz, died overnight in his sleep in Washington, D.C. He was 98 years old.

"Butz served Purdue well as a respected faculty member, department head and dean," said Randy Woodson, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture at Purdue. "He was a tireless advocate for agriculture, and his efforts helped bring Purdue Agriculture into international prominence."

Of the many roles he had in life, it was teaching that he most enjoyed, according to his comments in a Purdue "Connections" article.

Wally Tyner, former agricultural economics department head, remembers Butz as a friend and mentor.
"He always knew how to provide encouragement, and he thanked people for a job well done," Tyner said.

Butz earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Purdue in 1932. As a senior, he was editor of the student newspaper, The Purdue Exponent. He earned the first doctoral degree in agricultural economics awarded at Purdue in 1937.

Butz joined the staff in the Purdue Department of Agricultural Economics in 1937. He served as head of the department from 1946 to 1954. Butz was made dean of Purdue Agriculture in 1957 and served until 1967. He was dean of continuing education and vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation from 1968 to 1971.

In his governmental posts, Butz was Assistant Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., from 1954 to 1957 under President Dwight Eisenhower. He was Secretary of Agriculture from 1971 to 1976 under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Later he traveled the world as a lecturer and consultant. In 1999 Butz donated $1 million to Purdue's Department of Agricultural Economics.

Butz, a native of Albion, Ind., married Mary Emma Powell, from North Carolina, in 1937. They met in 1930 at the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C. She died in July 1995.

Visitation will be Saturday, Feb. 9, starting at 9:30 a.m. in the Federated Church in West Lafayette, Ind. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Federated Church, 2400 Sycamore Lane, West Lafayette, IN 47906 or to the Earl Butz scholarship fund at Purdue Agriculture Development, 715 West State St., West Lafayette, IN 47907.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722, (765) 427-5179,

Sources: Randy Woodson, (765) 494-8391, (765) 427-4219,
Wally Tyner, (765) 494-0199, (765) 409-1132,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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