Nancy Callan Profile Photo
1947 Nancy 2023

Nancy Callan

June 20, 1947 — March 17, 2023

Nancy Callan died last Thursday, March 16th, after a short illness. Nancy received a Masters degree in Botany from Southern Oregon University and a Doctorate in Horticulture from Oregon State University in 1973. During the 1970's she worked at the USFS Nursery in Medford, the Southern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, and was an Assistant Professor at Southern Oregon University. She was a Professor with Montana State University at the Western Agricultural Research Center, Corvallis MT from 1980 until her retirement in 2006. She planted and established acres of apple and cherry orchards and berry crops at the WARC including nearly a hundred different varieties of apples, and conducted every kind of experiment imaginable on these trees. Her specialty though, became diseases of horticultural crops, and she worked with researchers in the MSU Department of Plant Pathology throughout her career, becoming an accomplished plant pathologist in her own right. She worked with growers up and down the Bitterroot and Flathead valleys, developing innovative approaches to controlling plant diseases. Nancy was a skilled botanist and an expert on plants of the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest and produced educational videos showcasing her spectacular photography of wildflowers. She conducted research on plant-microbial associations, was one of the first researchers to show the benefits of endo-mycorrhizae colonization in field trials, and was instrumental in developing a system for nursery inoculation of native plants for land restoration with researchers at Bitterroot Restoration Inc. Her love for and curiosity about plants led her to the final chapter of her career when she began her study and cultivation of medicinal herbs, working with researchers at the University of Montana and Nutritional Laboratories International. Nancy held an unshakable lifelong conservation ethic and incorporated it into her research and every aspect of her life. She and her husband Art planted and established a thriving commercial apple orchard on their land next to their home, which they built with their own hands in the foothills of the Sapphire Mountains. She loved nature and wilderness and was an incredible backcountry hiker, often making twenty mile excursions in a single day with Art through the mountain ranges of the northern Rockies right up until the time of her death. Nancy began her career as a researcher and professor back in the early seventies when university faculties were largely composed of men, but she was not daunted by this reality. She remained true to her personal and professional ethos of respect for colleagues and support for her research assistants, while engaging in a courageous and assertive pursuit in the breadth and depth of her research. And she succeeded in her scientific academic career while never compromising her basic kindness and generosity of spirit.

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