With the sudden death of Adel Kader, December 10, 2012, the postharvest and horticultural development community mourns the loss of a leader, teacher, mentor, colleague and friend. His big heart, which he shared so willingly with everyone, finally failed him while travelling home from a postharvest conference in South Africa.
Adel was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1941. He earned his B.Sc. in Horticulture in 1959 from the Ain Shams University in Cairo, and then enrolled at UC Davis where he earned his M.Sc. in Vegetable Crops in 1962, and Ph.D. in Plant Physiology in 1966. He then returned to Egypt where he served as an Assistant Professor at Ain Shams University for five years, followed by work as a lecturer and consultant at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research for two years. In 1972 he was hired by UC Davis as an Assistant Researcher. It was history in the making from there.
The many accomplishments of Adel’s life and career are exemplified by the milestones of recognition: Chair of the University of California, Davis Pomology Department; Fellow, President, and Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Horticultural Science; Organizer of the International Horticultural Congress, recipient of the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Science’s Award of Distinction, among others.
For those of us who had the good fortune to work closely with him, Adel was a constant and inspiring role model. Always organized (who was not awed by his perfectly organized desk and his ability to instantly find a journal reference in his files?), always prepared, and always ready to take time to listen to anyone, or give a helping hand. From the perspective of postharvest biologists, Adel’s signature achievement has to be the development of the UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center. From a loose affiliation of Postharvest Extension Specialists, who published sporadic issues of a postharvest bulletin, he developed what is widely recognized as the world’s best source for postharvest information and education. His vision established the annual Postharvest Technology Short Course, now in its 35th year; the impact of this course, with more than 2,500 alumni, including students, researchers, teachers, regulators, and postharvest practitioners from around the world, is incalculable. To ensure the Center’s continued vitality, he also developed, and was a tireless advocate for, the UC Davis Postharvest Program Endowment Fund.
Adel’s energy was essential, too, to the publication of the first and subsequent editions of the companion text “Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops” the Third Edition which has sold more than 5,700 copies in English and has also been translated into Spanish. When he died, he was coordinating the writing of the Fourth Edition of this, his signature book. Adel also served as author and editor of many publications, including the popular “Small-Scale Postharvest Handling Practices: A Manual for Horticultural Crops” which he co-authored with Lisa Kitinoja, translated into nine additional languages. Adel led the development of the Postharvest Technology website which has become the premier place to find postharvest information and receives several million page views annually.
In teaching and research, Adel was a wonderful colleague. He and his students were particularly focused on understanding the physiology, biochemistry and technology of controlled and modified atmosphere storage of fruits and vegetables. He held the highest ethical, professional, and research standards for both himself and others, which challenged everyone with whom he worked to perform to their highest possible level. In addition to hundreds of peer reviewed papers and popular articles describing his research, Adel, with photographer Don Edwards, also produced hundreds of high quality slides demonstrating his research findings. These slides are still an essential component of many of the presentations made by members of the UC Davis postharvest team.
Adel was convinced that improved postharvest practices would not only improve the quality, taste, and nutrition of fruits and vegetables in the United States, but would also improve food supply, and farmers’ incomes in the developing world. From the start of his career, he was constantly involved in development activities. As a key player in the Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) project, which sought to bring the expertise of U.S. horticulturists to Egypt, he made postharvest handling a central theme. The subsequent flourishing of horticulture and horticultural exports from his home country, can, at least in part, be attributed to his efforts.
After his retirement in 2007, Adel slowed down ever so slightly, and enjoyed a greater focus on worldwide humanitarian horticultural efforts, and spending more time with his grandkids. For the past several years, Adel served as a key player in the Global Horticulture Assessment, which laid the foundation for the development of the Horticultural Collaborative Research Support Program (Horticulture CRSP), which USAID awarded to UC Davis. As an advisor during the writing of the proposal, and as a member of its International Advisory Board, he made significant contributions to the success and direction of the program.
We are greatly saddened by the sudden loss of our friend and mentor, and extend our condolences to his family – Aileen, Sami and his wife Shantel, Susu, and the two grandchildren whom he loved so much. Thank you for sharing your husband, father, and grandfather with us. We miss him too, but celebrate all he accomplished in his life. He leaves the world a better place.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, at the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center located on the UC Davis campus. There will be a luncheon reception at 11 a.m., memorial service at 1 p.m., and post-reception at 3 p.m.
The Kader Family has requested that in lieu of flowers, any memorial gifts be made to the Postharvest Program Endowment Fund. Additionally, they have created an Adel Kader Memorial Facebook page, and welcome your thoughts and photos.