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In memoriam: Doug Gubler

Doug Gubler
Walter Douglas Gubler, UC Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, died unexpectedly on July 19, 2018.  

Gubler was born on Jan. 28, 1946, in St. George, Utah, and raised in Santa Clara, Utah, where he graduated from Dixie High School in 1964. He graduated from Southern Utah State College with a B.S. in botany (1970) and received an M.S. in plant pathology from the University of Arkansas (1974). From 1974 to 1982, he was a postgraduate research plant pathologist working with Prof. Ray Grogan at UC Davis. During this period, he began his studies towards a Ph.D. in plant pathology, which he received in 1982.

Gubler worked as a research scientist with the Campbell Soup Company at their West Coast research facility in Davis for a year before joining the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis in 1983 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist.

Upon assuming his role as a CE specialist, Gubler established a productive and vitally important program on diseases of small perennial fruit crops. His research emphasized pathogen biology and epidemiology, with overarching goals of improved disease control and reduced pesticide usage.  

He and his group made seminal discoveries that deepened the understanding of the etiology, epidemiology and management of diseases affecting grapes, orchards and other small fruit crops. Major thrusts of his research were powdery mildew diseases of grapevines and strawberries, and the etiology of new diseases of grapevines and strawberry in California. These included innovations in management of Botrytis bunch rot, development of the Gubler-Thomas risk assessment model for powdery mildew, and characterization of the complex etiology of canker and vine decline diseases in grapes.

What underscored the success of many of these projects was a firm understanding of the biology of the host-pathogen system under study, a principle that he reinforced with those who worked with him.

Gubler mentored many graduate students, postdocs, and other researchers, providing opportunities for professional growth. Many of his team have become key players in the field, with influence far beyond the California border. His dedication to his extension responsibilities is evident from his broad engagement with growers, pest control advisers and UCCE personnel in production areas throughout the state. He was highly respected for his expertise throughout California, as well as the nation and the world.

Although Gubler formally retired from UC Davis in 2016, he remained active in research and consulting. He and his wife Carol were on their way back to California from their new home in Utah when he died. He was planning to evaluate grape powdery mildew trials the next week in Napa and Sonoma.

Gubler had one of the most distinguished and robust programs of information extension within the UC system. During his career, he presented hundreds of talks throughout California, the nation and the world. He was recognized as an international authority on grape diseases, and his expertise was in great demand from grape industries all over the world. His oral presentations were complemented by many extension publications that drew on the results of his mission-oriented research program. Related to his extension work was his diagnostic support for UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors, faculty colleagues and growers. In 1998, Gubler received the American Phytopathological Society (APS) Extension Award in recognition of his accomplishments in extension and outreach.

Gubler was very active in the APS. He served on many APS committees, including the APS Intellectual Property Rights Committee, Graduate Travel Awards, Extension Committee, and New Fungicides/Nematicides Committee. He was especially active in the APS Pacific Division, serving as an elected officer for many years, including President of the Division in 2007. He received the APS Excellence in Extension Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the APS Pacific Division, and was elected an APS Fellow in 2009. Gubler was a recipient of the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Coteaux De Champagne in France (1995), recognized as an honorary member of the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association (PAPA, 1992), and bestowed the Southern Utah University Eccles Foundation Alumni Award (2003).

While Gubler loved his career, nothing came close to his love and appreciation for his family. He was proud of each of their achievements, and he was quick to let them know. He enjoyed golfing, listening to talk radio, telling jokes, playing cards and games with his grandchildren, and spending quality time with his friends and family. His family (and his colleagues) will miss his great sense of humor.

Gubler is survived by his wife, Carol; son Curtis; daughters Kirsten Stevens (Lance), Sherie Linford (Fred), Andrea Carter (Brent), Natalie Jeffs (Randy); and 18 grandchildren. His surviving siblings include Ward Gubler (Judy), Pat Clove (Sheldon), Duane Gubler (Bobbie), Muriel Blake, Murray Gubler (Jane) and Jeff Gubler (Angela). Memorial services and tributes were held in Santa Clara, Utah, on July 30, 2018, and in Davis on Aug. 17, 2018.

Posted on Friday, August 31, 2018 at 8:34 PM
  • Author: Richard M Bostock
  • Author: David Rizzo

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