ANR Employees
University of California
ANR Employees

In memoriam: Richard Rominger

Richard Rominger at Ag Day at the Capitol. Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Richard Rominger, former UC President's Advisory Commission member, passed away Dec. 20 in Winters. He was 93.

“In addition to his outstanding leadership at CDFA and USDA, Rich was always a great supporter and advisor to UC ANR. He exemplified the concept of servant leader and was a role model for myself and so many others,” said VP Glenda Humiston. “We are grateful to Rich for sharing his wisdom and kindness. He will be greatly missed.”

A fourth-generation farmer from Winters, Rominger applied his agricultural experience when he served as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1993 to 2001, director of the California Department of Food Agriculture from 1977 to 1982 and UC alumni regent 2005 to 2006.

After he returned to California from Washington D.C., he joined the PAC in 2002. He advocated for UC ANR research as a California CARET representative and was an active PAC member until stepping down in 2019.

“Rich Rominger was a titan in the agricultural and conservation communities,” said Daniel M. Dooley, former UC vice president for External Relations and ANR, who served as chief deputy director of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (1977-80) with Rominger. 

“He served in too many roles to enumerate, but his service as California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, Deputy Secretary of USDA and as a long-time member of the Board of the American Farmland Trust illustrate the breadth of his engagements,” Dooley said. “He was respected in virtually every quarter he touched. I had the pleasure to work with him at CDFA and we stayed connected professionally and socially for five decades.”

Through gifts from family and friends, Rominger helped establish the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award in 2008 to honor the memories of his son Charlie and UC Davis animal science professor Eric Bradford. Over the years, several UC ANR academics have been received the award for their contributions to agricultural sustainability.

“I was a dean in the Midwest when he served at USDA and learned firsthand that Rich was accessible to all,” said Reg Gomes, former UC ANR vice president. “Unlike too many bureaucrats, he listened closely, responded intelligently and left all of us feeling as though we had a fair hearing - even when he turned down our requests. When I moved to UC, I was impressed with the sheer number of ways in which he contributed to U.S. and California agriculture, UC Davis and UC as a whole.

In 2016, UC Davis awarded Rich and Evelyne UC Davis Medals, the highest honor the university presents to individuals.

“He was a titan in agriculture for sure, but what I liked and respected about Rich just as much as his leadership and vision was how he made you feel: respected, relevant, empowered, worthwhile, confident,” said Steve Nation, former director of ANR government and external relations.

Rominger is survived by his wife Evelyne, children and their spouses, Rick and Patty, Ruth and Lars, and Bruce and Robyn; daughter-in law Cairn; grandchildren Katherine, Justin, Sarah, Cienna, Aldo, John and Rachel; and great-grandson Alexander.

Donations can be made in his honor to the Yolo Land Trust located at 221 W. Court Street, Ste 5, Woodland, CA 95695, and to the Bradford-Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award Fund at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute of UC Davis, care of CAES Deans Office University of California, located at One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA, 95616. No services are planned at this time.


Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 6:05 PM

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