Dr. Marshal D. McGlamery, Professor Emeritus of Weed Science at the University of Illinois passed away January 25, 2013 in Suffolk, Virginia. Dr. McGlamery was world renowned for his knowledge and expertise in weed management. His unique talents for communicating his extensive knowledge with individuals and audiences were equally renowned. During his 35-year career in the professorial ranks at the University of Illinois, untold numbers of students, farmers and agricultural professionals benefitted from Dr. McGlamery’s undaunted passion for helping others better understand and manage unwanted vegetation.
Marshal (Mac) was born July 29, 1932 in the small town of Moorland, Oklahoma to Walter and Bernice McGlamery. He married his hometown sweetheart, Marilyn Hudson, on June 2, 1957, and together they enjoyed 56 years of blissful marriage. Their love and commitment to one another was further blessed with two sons, Steve and Paul, who currently reside with their families in Virginia. Mac held a special place in his heart for children and realized some of his greatest enjoyment lavishing his four grandchildren with the love and attention unique to a grandfather.
Marshal’s interest in agriculture began when he spent the summers of his youth working on his uncle’s farm. He cultivated his growing love of agriculture by enrolling at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) in 1950 to study crop production. A 2-year stint with the United States Army interrupted his undergraduate studies during his junior year, but following his military service Mac returned to Oklahoma A&M where he earned a B.S. in crops in 1956 and a M.S. in soil fertility in 1958.
Following completion of his M.S. degree, Mac became an instructor at Panhandle A&M College, teaching courses in soil management and fertility from 1958–1960. He then became an agronomist at a local agribusiness in Lawrence, Kansas where he made soil testing and fertilizer recommendations to local farmers. After a year in retail business, Mac made the decision to return to academia and pursue a Ph.D. in soils. He enrolled at the University of Illinois in 1961 to begin his Ph.D. program. However, he soon changed the focus of his research to weed science following a chance encounter with Dr. Fred Slife, who was looking for a graduate research assistant with soils experience to study the new phenomenon of atrazine carryover. Mac completed his Ph.D. in weed science in 1965, and later that year joined the faculty ranks as a weed science extension specialist with responsibilities in research and extension. Dr. McGlamery advanced through the professorial ranks and became a full professor in 1975. He held a joint extension/teaching appointment for the 27 years preceding his retirement on February 29, 2000.
Dr. McGlamery held a research appointment during only the early years of his tenure at the University of Illinois, but he maintained an active role in various field and greenhouse research projects throughout his career. Mac collaborated with other weed science researchers to develop the best weed management systems for the agronomic crops grown in Illinois. He believed the most valuable weed management information he could share with his clientele was derived from in-state research. With his dedicated leadership, research results were transposed into practical programs readily adopted by Illinois weed management practitioners. He participated in three sabbatical leaves to learn additional research skills and techniques to better address the most daunting weed management challenges of the day. He spent two summers in India endeavoring to establish soybean as a viable source of dietary vegetable protein. Dr. McGlamery served on dozens of graduate student research committees and volunteered countless hours of consultation to graduate students from virtually every subject-matter discipline within the college.
Mac began to build his teaching skills while teaching a soils laboratory at Oklahoma State University. In 1968 he was provided with the opportunity to teach the weed science course at the University of Illinois, which at that time was an introductory course in a developing science. It was during the early years of teaching this course that Mac learned the essential value for a teacher to teach from experience and not simply from a textbook. Ultimately, Dr. McGlamery taught this course for over 30 years. Enrollment in his course averaged at least 50 students for 24 consecutive years, a true testament of his teaching prowess. He also taught an extramural weed science course at different locations around the state for many years, and tailored the course content to better address the educational needs of the students at each location. When asked to describe his philosophy of teaching, Mac stated: “I believe that each student is an individual and that they must be challenged to achieve their best. I want the students to know that I am not just interested in numbers or grades, but that I want each of them to accept the challenge to improve so that they can be a better member of society.” His students referred to him not as an instructor, but as a teacher.
Dr. McGlamery was perhaps best known for his communication skills and captivating presentations as an extension weed scientist. He possessed an innate ability to take the most basic and technical information and translate it into a format understandable to all. His attire was analogous to his trademark: a fluorescent orange shirt with rainbow-color suspenders provided the canvas onto which a marshal’s badge was pinned, and a bolo tie hung around his neck. He used humor to keep the audience alert because he believed humor helped the listener retain what they heard. The standing-room-only crowds he attracted were as much a reflection of respect for his knowledge as his ability to entertain. He safeguarded his well-earned reputation for being an unbiased source of weed management information. His audiences grew to depend upon him to remove the promotional hype surrounding the commercialization of new herbicides and provide a frank account of each new product. Mac was instrumental in the formation of the Pesticide Applicator Program at the University of Illinois, an extension program that trained thousands in the safe and proper handling and application of pesticides. The hours of work he devoted to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic cannot be tabulated, nor can the miles he traveled across the state to visit fields, speak to individuals or groups, or in some other manner serve as an emissary of weed science and the University of Illinois.
Throughout his career, Mac maintained an active role in the North Central Weed Science Society and Weed Science Society of America, serving on numerous committees in each society. His presentations at annual society meetings were eagerly anticipated and the room in which he spoke was usually filled to capacity. As a tribute to his career, his final presentation at the North Central Weed Science Society’s annual meeting was allocated twice the amount of time normally allocated for individual presentations. In further tribute, no concurrent presentations were scheduled during his presentation so everyone had the opportunity to hear Mac regale the standing-room-only crowd with the history of weed science in the north central region. He received numerous awards from scientific societies, governmental agencies and the University of Illinois for his dedication to teaching and extension.
Throughout his career, Mac believed he was privileged to serve agriculture and the people of Illinois. He believed the purpose of both his professional position and his life was to assist others and thereby accomplish something that outlived him. His dedication and compassion for weed science was surpassed by his dedication and compassion for his fellow human beings. With uninterrupted meekness and humility, Marshal McGlamery personified the role of a servant. When asked during an interview to describe what he hoped his legacy would be, Mac replied: “I hope people will say I was a person who literally took the term “service” to heart. I tell people that I’m a public servant. I know your taxes pay my salary. I hope you’ve got your money’s worth.” Perhaps the most fitting tribute to this extraordinary individual is to emulate his service to others. Marshal McGlamery realized that one consummate accomplishment toward which so many strive; he made a difference.
A public memorial service for Dr. McGlamery will be held at 2:00 p.m. April 20 at the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in Urbana.