Hardworking U entomologist dies

Mark Remme

David Noetzel, an accomplished University professor who applied his knowledge to insect-related issues worldwide, died Sept. 19, in Leonard. He was 76.

Noetzel earned an undergraduate zoology degree at the University in 1952. He went on to attain a master’s degree in entomology in 1956 and began working in the University’s entomology department in 1969.

Noetzel taught and worked as a University Extension Service entomologist until he retired in 1998.

As an Extension entomologist, Noetzel worked with information gathered in research and applied it to conditions outside the academic spectrum.

Mark Ascerno, head of the entomology department, said Noetzel had a broad impact on his profession.

Noetzel worked on a wide range of insect problems by performing tests with insects in small grain, wild rice and potatoes.

“He was a pioneer in innovative pest management, which evaluated whether or not insects caused the problems with the crops being studied,” Ascerno said.

Noetzel was also involved in creating a solution to the Dutch elm disease that hit the Twin Cities in the 1960s, when he worked with city officials to develop a control program.

Internationally, Noetzel spent time working in countries such as Ukraine, where he enhanced potato production, a major economic crop there.

He also spent time working in Chile, Morocco, Sudan and Niger.

Bruce Potter, a University Extension integrated pest management specialist, revered Noetzel for his outlook on the profession and his dedication to his work.

“He had a strong perception of how important agriculture was,” Potter said. “He was one of the hardest-working individuals I’ve ever met.”

Longtime University Extension colleague John Lofgren worked with Noetzel first during Noetzel’s stint at North Dakota State University and later as an Extension entomologist at the University of Minnesota. He also noted Noetzel’s work ethic as part of his legacy.

Noetzel was a dedicated and goal-oriented person, he said.

“He was a very good friend and colleague, and I liked working with him very much,” Lofgren said.

Noetzel remained active in entomology until he acquired amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – in 2005.

Noetzel is survived by his wife of 55 years, Lavonne; sons, Earl and Martin; daughters, Elise, Meriam, Heidi and Carolyn; and five grandchildren.