Beach, Spencer A. 1860-1922

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Spencer A. Beach was undoubtedly one of the most well known and far seeing professional horticulturists of the early 20th Century. He was born at Sumnar Hall in New York in 1860 and received his early education both in that state and at Ann Arbor High School in Michigan. He graduated from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University of Science and Technology) at Ames in 1887 where he took his major work under the well known Professor Budd. He obtained his M.S. degree at the same college in 1892.

For three years following graduation he became connected with a commercial nursery in Iowa in order that he might increase his practical knowledge of fruit culture. In 1890 he accepted the position of head of horticulture at Texas A. and M. (now Texas State University) but his stay there was very short-lived. In 1891 he became horticulturist at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva where for 14 years he was known as an outstanding pomologist and an individual with a broad educational viewpoint. His knowledge of apples, grapes and bush fruits was extensive and he published the classical apple cultivar publication Apples of New York in 2 volumes (1905). He initiated also the breeding program which has continued in New York up to the present.

In 1905 Professor Beach became Vice-Dean and head of the Department of Horticulture and Forestry at Iowa State College. The work in forestry at Ames owed its introduction and establishment to Professor Beach. He took a very active part in college administration and in work of the various departments. He particularly encouraged initiation of more intensive studies of genetics. He developed an extensive apple breeding program at Ames.

Professor Beach was possibly the leading figure in the initiation of the foundation of what is now the American Society for Horticultural Science. He was also a member of the Horticultural Society of London, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for the Promotion of Agricultural Science as well as the Iowa and Midwest Horticulturist Societies. He was one of the founders of the two letter organizations. He was also a member of Gamma Sigma Delta, Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Xi.

Professor Beach was undoubtedly one of the most active and productive horticulturists of the early 20th Century. He died on November 3, 1922, at the age of 62. His contributions during his life time undoubtedly place him in the front rank of 20th Century horticulturists.