Breeding, North America, Varieties

In memoriam: Potato industry veteran Dr Joe Pavek passed away

It is with great sadness that we report today that Dr. Joseph John Pavek (92) died from age related causes, and a broken heart on May 24, 2020. According to a report published today by the Idaho State Journal, Dr Joe Pavek lost the love of his life, Sylvia, just 50 days earlier, after 62 years of marriage.

Joe (Jr) was born into the farming family of Emma and Joseph Pavek on Oct. 3, 1927 near Waubun, Minnesota. Joe and his five brothers, Stanley (d), Adelbert (d), Robert (d), Edmund and Ronald (d), were the third generation raised on the farm.

Joe left the farm for the US Navy and served during the Korean, specializing in radar on submarines and aircraft carriers (1946-49. Joe obtained BS (Ag Ed) and MS (Plant Genetics) degrees from the U of Minnesota in 1954 and 1963. He graduated with a PhD in Plant Genetics from U of Wisconsin in 1965.

Joe was a longtime friend of potato farmers and industry, serving as a potato breeder for the USDA at the Univ. of Idaho Res & Ext Center in Aberdeen, ID, working for 34 years (1965-1999). Joe developed new potato varieties with colleagues. Five of the top ten US potato varieties were created by Joe (Ranger Russet, Umatilla Russet, Alturas, Bannock Russet and Clearwater Russet) and were grown on more than 300,000 acres in 2019. His varieties are used throughout the world.

Approximately half the french fries consumed in the US come from varieties Joe created. Joe was a dedicated member of the Potato Association of American (PAA) and served in many roles, including President in 1987-88. He was inducted into the Idaho Potato Hall of Fame in 2000.

You can read the full obituary in the Idaho State Journal here, where you will also find a way to send flowers and share the story to friends and colleagues.
Our sincere condolences to the Pavek family from all Potato News Today readers, and beyond…

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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