Illini Horticulture May 1948: “Meet the Dwight Powell Family”

powell illini horticulture cover mag

VOL. 37


MAY 1948

To most growers, Dr. Dwight Powell needs no introduction, his many timely and useful recommendations to Illinois Horticulturists are appreciated by all. Dwight is one the few men who has been able to unite the practical with the research and scientific side of Horticulture, and brings to the growers something timely and useful they can understand. He has become the envy of all college men and growers in the state for his rare ability to always keep his feet on the ground.

The town of Rockton, Illinois, claims Dwight Powell as a favorite son. It is located just about 10 miles north of Rockford up in Northern Illinois and as Les Stone says, “All good things­ come from Northern Illinois.” His early education started in the Coon Creek Schools a country school. (However, I’m told Dwight was never a Coon Hunter). Later he attended high school in Rockton, where he met his charming wife, the former Genevieve Cummings, who lived just about four miles the other side of town. He was soon overcome by her charm and personality, which I can readily understand after a recent visit to the Powell home in Urbana.

Dwight later attended the University of Illinois where he received his Bachelors, Masters and Doctors degrees. While an undergraduate he worked part time at the Quality Restaurant, and became an authority on Foods and Restaurants, and I’m told he is an excellent ‘judge of restaurants’ to this day. The interesting thing which many of us did not realize is that Dwight was trained as an entomologist and has his Doctors degree in Entomology with a Minor in Pathology. (We always wondered how he could stay up with Chandler).

As a speaker, Dwight has a national reputation; just last winter he spoke before the Colorado Horticulture Society, has appeared before the American Phytopathological Society as well as many neighboring Horticulture Societies and every Horticultural organization in the state of Illinois. He is a member of Sigma Xi, an Honorary Society of Scientists. He is also chairman of the sub-committee on Fungicide Nomenclature of the American Phytopathological Society. His business training includes about eight years experience in operating and part owning a Pest Control Business in Champaign.

More recently Dwight, in partnership with Wm. Smith, became the proud owners of the Paul Hill apple orchard in Clark County at Martinsville, Ill. This orchard consists of about 65 acres of bearing apple trees from 1.5 to 25 years old, and about 25 acres of trees from 2 to 7 years old. The varieties include Stayman, Winesap. Golden Delicious, Jonathon and Delicious, and others. (We shall probably visit this orchard on our summer tour). One year’s experience in the apple business has taught him more than many of us learn in a lifetime. They are now more or less setting the orchard up as a testing orchard so that many of us may profit by their experiences.

Dwight’s timely advice will no doubt be a factor in the successful operations of the Horticultural Society of Illinois for the ensuing year. We personally are looking forward to Dwight Powell’s future as a Pathologist, as a speaker, as a scientist, as a grower, and as a father.

(Ed. Note: When at the Powell home recently were about 10 children on the frònt porch, but Mrs. Powell quickly in­formed me that they were not all members of the Powell family).
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Illini Pest Control (formed in 1939)

Illini Pest Control & Service was formed in 1939 by four entomologists on the faculty and staff of the University of Illinois and the Illinois Natural History Survey. “The entomologists—C.L. Metcalf, Clyde Kearns, William McCauley and Dwight Powell— later became known for other professional contributions. “McCauley, for example, is credited with the idea for pest strips and flea collars.  Kearns did some of the original research on the pesticide chlordane. And Metcalf was co-author of the textbook “Destructive and Useful Insects.” At Illini Pest Control, they employed U. of I. students part time as pest control operators to give them practical experience.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the company, an employee picnic was held at Urbana’s Meadowbrook Park in September 1999.  This was according to The News-Gazette who interviewed Bill Delaplane, the company’s president (85 years old) and Nancy Delaplane, 80, the vice president/secretary.  The Delaplanes’ connection with the business dates back to 1942 when Bill Delaplane—then a University of Illinois graduate student in entomology—was offered a job as full-time manager for the firm.  They purchased the company in 1947.  One of their sons, Gary Delaplane, served as the company’s director of operations from 1987 until his death in 1994. And one of their daughters, Diana E. Delaplane, was general manager as of the year 2000.

The preceding information was taken from “Entomology Newsletter 2000”.  This newsletter was published annually by the Department of Entomology, School of Integrative Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 320 Morrill Hall, 505 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801 USA.

The following pictures were taken from a 2’x3′ poster created for the 25th anniversary of the company.  Apparently this poster sat in storage for many years.  It made its way to my Uncle Dwight A. Powell (son of one of the founders Dwight E. Powell Jr.).  He met one of the Delaplane daughters at a medical conference in 2011 and she sent this to him because of how prominently his father is featured in the poster.

This is a 2’x3′ poster created for the company’s 25th anniversary in 1964.

Return to Dwight’s home page.