Albert A. Piringer, USDA horticulturist

January 20, 2014

Albert A. Piringer, a horticulturist who spent 31 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before retiring in 1986, died Jan. 18 at his home in University Park, Md. He was 92.

The cause was heart complications, said his companion, Maria Spencer.

Dr. Piringer contributed research to floriculture, including investigating the effect of day length on plant growth and plants’ formation and use of phytochrome. He was the former assistant chief of the fruit and nuts branch of the USDA Agricultural Research Service and an associate director of the National Arboretum in the District from 1968 to 1972.

Albert Aloysius Piringer was born in St. Paul, Minn. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1947 and a master’s degree in horticultural science in 1948, both from the University of Minnesota. In 1953, he received a doctorate in horticultural science from the University of Maryland and was hired by the USDA.

He was an Army veteran of World War II and a medical technician during occupation of Japan after the war.

Dr. Piringer was a three-time recipient of the American Society of Horticultural Science’s award for excellence in floriculture research and past chairman of the old Horticultural Science Institute in Beltsville, Md. He was past president of the nonprofit Friends of Agricultural Research-Beltsville and a volunteer guide at the National Arboretum.

He spent part of his time at his home in McHenry, Md., near Deep Creek Lake.

His wife of 38 years, Phyllis Wegner Piringer, died in 1982. Survivors include his companion of 30 years, Maria Spencer of McHenry; four children from his marriage, Bruce Piringer of Colombia, Mo., Margaret Higdon of Edgewater, Md., Peter Piringer of Bethesda and Susan Piringer of University Park; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough