Fruit Scientist Harold W. Fogle; Developed Prized Cherry Variety

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Harold Warman Fogle, 88, a fruit research scientist who developed the exquisite but expensive Rainier cherry in the 1950s and went on to become an investigations leader in the U.S. Department of Agriculture lab studying pitted fruits, died Oct. 6 at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park after a heart attack.

In 1949, Dr. Fogle had finished his doctorate -- focusing on the "Tiny Tim" tomato -- when he accepted a research position with a Washington State University agricultural research center in Prosser, Wash.

According to a 2004 article in the Seattle Times Magazine, he researched new cherry varieties that would complement the brief growing season of the popular Bing cherry.

In 1952, he cross-pollinated the Bing with the similarly red-fleshed Van cherry, and the resulting crop became a sweet, intensely shiny, yellow-fleshed cherry called the Rainier. It took its name from Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the Cascade Range.

The fruit, released in 1960, was also delicate and bruised easily. This made for much pricier cherries, but many food experts and consumers thought they were worth it.

A food writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer once called the Rainier the "sweetest, prettiest and most pampered of cherries." The Rainier became one of the most popular cherries grown in the Northwest.

Dr. Fogle was a native of Morgantown, W.Va., and graduated from West Virginia University, where he also received a master's degree in horticulture in 1941.

After serving in the Army Air Forces in Alaska in World War II, he received a doctorate in horticulture and genetics from the University of Minnesota.

In 1963, Dr. Fogle joined the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville as an investigations leader in stone fruits, those with pits. During the next 17 years, he also released two peach varieties -- the Havis and Cullinan -- named after USDA colleagues.

He also helped compile and publish a list of all known fruit and tree nut varieties, called the North American and European Fruit and Tree Nut Germplasm Resources Inventory.

For his peach, apricot and cherry breeding, he received the American Pomological Society's Wilder Medal in 1978 for distinguished contributions to the advancement of pomology, the science of fruit cultivation. He was also a former president of the society.

In 1998, the USDA released the Bluebyrd plum, the result of cross-pollinations he had conducted in Beltsville 30 years earlier.

He was a member of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Silver Spring, where he lived. He also did volunteer work for Meals on Wheels and Silver Spring Help, a social service organization.

Survivors include his wife, Shirley Page Miller Fogle, whom he married in 1947, of Silver Spring; two children, Linda Blair of Damascus and David Fogle of Castro Valley, Calif.; two sisters; and two grandchildren.

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