Robert Rhoades RIP

by Luigi Guarino on March 25, 2010

Robert E. Rhoades is dead. He was a pioneer of agricultural anthropology and wrote extensively on conservation of agrobiodiversity, especially how local people do it. His 1991 National Geographic piece The World’s Food Supply at Risk is a classic.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Cary March 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Bob Rhoades was a wonderful man who made a tremendous contribution to our field. He was indeed a great teacher, advisor and researcher. In addition to what is mentioned in the short article above, let me note that he worked for a number of years at CIP, and was the author of another memorable National Geographic article, “The Incredible Potato.” He also co-founded the Southern Seed Legacy ( http://www.uga.edu/ebl/ssl/ ) with his wife, Prof. Virginia Nazarea, who is also a very prominent figure in crop diversity. Personally, I treasure the times I spent with Bob at his farm outside Athens, and a trip we made on the back-roads through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, visiting seed savers and conservationist along the way.

Reply

Pablo Eyzaguirre March 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

I am so saddened to hear that Bob Roades died. He was perhaps the first social scientist to systematically document, improve and extend farmer’s knowledge about agricultural biodiversity. His modest and warm approach in the field, his gentle humour, and sharp intellect earned him the respect of farmers everywhere he worked. As anthropologists we are proud of the pathbreaking work that Bob did, charting the way so that many others could also contribute. Bob loved speaking about his farm in Georgia, his Oklahoma roots, his marriage to Virginia. His generosity and ideas keep him dear to me. My condolences to Virginia and his family.

Reply

Virginia D. Nazarea July 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm

My husband’s deep affection for the crops and people he studied and worked with led him to fill his life with research, teaching, and advocacy. Right on to a period in Anthropology when everyone had to be critical so as not to be accused of being simple, Bob’s scholarship was purposeful and validating. Whether he was looking at local storage of potatoes in the Andes or multi-layered responses to glacier retreat as a result of climate change, he sought to understand why things as they are make sense and was never afraid to recommend measures by which they might be improved. I wish to thank Cary and Pablo for their heartwarming messages and I also wish to invite Bob’s friends and colleagues to join us in Georgia on October 1 for a university memorial to his life and career and in New Orleans on November 17-20 for the Anthropology Annual Meetings where there will be a double session in honor of Bob’s work.

Reply

Mary Tiller July 26, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I have stumbled across this page and would like to comment about my experience with Dr. Rhoades. I can’t believe he is gone. i was shocked when i saw on the UGA Anthropology main page, something about a memorial service for him. what!?
I took a class with Dr. Rhoades and Dr. Nazarea in 1999 or 2000 about Southern culture. Our small class visited Foxfire in Rabun county. We also had a southern dinner at his log cabin, outside of Athens. He showed everyone how he had transported this old log cabin to where it was and then was in the process of making an addition. I made a pecan pie and he was so gracious about this simple thing. i will always remember this experience and the personal time he and Dr. Nazarea spent with us students. It was wonderful.
This great person, Dr. Rhoades, will be missed.

Reply

Mike Swift April 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

I have come across this sad news as I was trying to track down Bob to share a document with him relating to his time on the board of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Programme. He was first of all the inspiration for taking our soil fertility research into the reality of the farmers’ domain. He was also such a wonderful person who brought a unique sense of what it is to be human to the workings of our Board. As others have said he will indeed be missed but he is somone who will be remembered fondly by all who were privilaged to work with him.

Reply

Leave a Comment