Agronomy, plant genetics professor Elling dies at 84

Liz Kohman

Department of agronomy and plant genetics professor Laddie J. Elling died after complications from a stroke Wednesday morning at United Hospital in St. Paul. He was 84.

Elling was involved with the University for more than 50 years as a student and as a professor. He won two awards for his dedication to the University: the Horace T. Morse All-University Teaching Award in 1971 and the 1998 Outstanding Achievement Award – the University’s highest honor.

“He was a man with a mission,” said Kristin Hanson, Elling’s granddaughter. He always had a project, usually involving the University, she added.

“He loved the ‘U,'” Hanson said. “The St. Paul campus was like his home.”

Elling was born and raised in Oklahoma, where he received his undergraduate degrees. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and became involved with the University in 1946.

He came to the University planning to tour the college and several others before picking a school. But Elling enrolled for 21 credits the day of his tour and started taking classes the next day.

Elling earned a master’s degree in 1948 and a doctorate in 1950 from the University. He then became a faculty member.

During his University career, Elling led the alfalfa research project and developed and led the grass-legume seed production research project.

Elling was also involved with students. He coached the University Crop Judging Team from 1962 to 1979 and helped his teams win eight consecutive national contests.

Don Barnes, who worked with Elling as an undergraduate in 1953, said Elling was responsible for encouraging many students to do graduate work and be active in their community.

“He always nudged you on to do better than you might have done otherwise,” Barnes said.

Elling retired in 1985 but continued teaching classes and compiling a history book on the agronomy and plant genetics department.

Published in 2000 and dedicated to Elling, the book chronicles the department’s history from 1888 to 2000.

There is a University memorial fund in Elling’s name. Donations to the fund will go to the department of agronomy and plant genetics.

A memorial service will be at the Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist on Saturday at 1 p.m.

 

Liz Kohman welcomes comments at [email protected]