Paul O. Ritcher, ESA Fellow (1944)

Dr. Paul O. Ritcher (deceased 6 February 1991) was elected as Fellow in 1944. He was known internationally for his work on the biology and systematics of the Scarabaeoidea and had active research interests in applied entomology, larval taxonomy, and biological control. Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Ritcher authored 65 scientific publications, including the monograph White Grubs and Their Allies, and 17 extension publications. He was active in teaching, service, and research throughout his career, despite contracting polio in 1962 which confined him to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.

Ritcher was born in Washburn, IL on 15 April 1910. His interests in entomology were encouraged at a young age, where he frequently visited the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois. Also, he occasionally attended entomology course lectures with his father. He received his A.B. at the University of Illinois in 1931, and published his first paper describing a new species of simuliid larva during this time. Ritcher earned his M.A., also at the University of Illinois, in 1932 and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in 1935, where he focused on the Phyllophaga of Wisconsin.

From there, Ritcher began a very productive career. After a brief stint as an agent with the USDA in Madison, WI (1935–1936), he worked as an assistant entomologist and eventually associate entomologist for the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station from 1936¬–1949 and research professor of entomology at North Carolina State College from 1949–1952. In 1952, Ritcher accepted a position as the chair of Department of Entomology at Oregon State University. He remained as department chair until 1971 and continued to teach students and curate the Oregon State Arthropod Collection until 1975, when he retired. While on leave in 1958–1959 as a temporary member of the Rockefeller Foundation, Ritcher helped to found a graduate program at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi, India.

Ritcher was active in serving organizations throughout his life, including as ESA 2nd Vice President in 1949, serving on the ESA Governing Board from 1962–1965, as ESA President in 1970, vice president of the North Central Branch of the American Association of Economic Entomologists, president of the Oregon Entomological Society, president of the Coleopterists Society, president of the Benton County National Foundation (March of Dimes), and treasurer of the State of Oregon Numismatic Association. Ritcher was awarded a Fulbright Research Award in 1962 (declined because of polio), the Oregon State University Alumni Distinguished Professor Award in 1971, the Diamond Pioneer award in 1987, and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

(updated May, 2012)