Richard Guthrie, College of Agriculture dean emeritus, passed away

Published: January 25, 2023

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Richard L. Guthrie, dean emeritus of Auburn’s College of Agriculture and former director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, died on Monday, Jan. 23, after a brief illness, surrounded by family and friends. He was 81 years old.

A memorial service was held on Jan. 26 at Auburn United Methodist Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Richard L. Guthrie Award for Achievement in International Agriculture, which was established to recognize distinguished achievement in international teaching, research, extension or outreach in the College of Agriculture.

Guthrie played football and ran track for Auburn and graduated with a bachelor's degree in agronomy and soils in 1962. While an undergraduate, he was initiated into Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. In 1965, he earned a master’s degree at Auburn and moved his new family to Ithaca, New York, where he received a doctorate from Cornell University.

Guthrie then worked as a soil scientist for the U. S. Department of Agriculture for 20 years, concluding this first career in 1983 as national leader for soil taxonomy in Washington, D.C. In 1983, he returned to his alma mater to serve as the head of Auburn’s Department of Agronomy and Soils. He later served as acting dean of the College of Agriculture, associate dean of the international agricultural program and as dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, or AAES, from 2005-10.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Kay Couvrette Guthrie; his brother, Larry Dewain Guthrie; his sister, Jeanne Guthrie; three children, Kathy Guthrie Padgett, Ann Rebecca Guthrie and Luci Guthrie Davis (Rob); and three grandchildren, Anna Kathryn Padgett, William “Will” Richard Davis and Reese James Davis.

“Dr. Guthrie was a dear friend and mentor to many of us and was a highly respected leader for our college, the experiment station and the Alabama agriculture industry as a whole,” said Paul Patterson, current dean for the college and director of AAES. “Our hearts are with his family at this time.”