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  • Writer's pictureBeltsville News

Obituary: Bauchan, Gary

Bauchan, Gary (66)

It is with deep sorrow and much love that the family of Gary R Bauchan, PhD announced his passing on January 12, 2021 due to complications from COVID.

Born in East Grand Rapids and raised in Wyoming, Michigan, Gary graduated from Godwin Heights High School (Wyoming 1972), Aquinas College (Grand Rapids, 1976, B.S.), and St. Cloud State University (MN, 1978 M.A). He completed his doctorate in cytogenetics at Michigan State University, 1982.

In 1980 he was married to the love of his life, Francine. The couple relocated to Beltsville, Maryland in 1982 where Gary spent 38 years working as a leading research scientist at the USDA. During that time, he has authored and co-authored a total of 253 publications including 182 peer reviewed papers, in addition to 71 symposium articles, popular press articles, training videos, book chapters, and conference abstracts. Gary received more than 70 invitations to give presentations at scientific meetings, at universities, and at national and international conferences in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

Gary spent the first 25 years of his career with ARS as a plant geneticist conducting research in cytogenetics, and during that time became recognized as a worldwide expert in alfalfa (also known as lucerne). Beyond being used as a garnish in salads, alfalfa’s most extensive use is as an essential crop for foraging animals worldwide, and Gary’s research contributed to genetically improving yields as well as disease and pest resistance for this pivotal plant. He was elected the President of the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference in 1992, served on the conference executive committee from 1988 until 2008, and had received an Honorary Membership from the North American Alfalfa Conference in 2010 for “Outstanding contributions to the advancement of alfalfa improvement” by the membership of the conference.

In 2007, Gary was selected as the Director of the Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit (ECMU), which provides collaborative assistance for Beltsville NEA scientists and ARS collaborators in need of high-resolution imaging for their research. In 2012, he coordinated the move of the ECMU into a newly renovated space for state-of-the-art electron transmission microscopes where his leadership was the catalyst for increasing production of the unit, evident by 146 peer reviewed publications plus 60 other publications in the past 12 years.

Gary’s ability to utilize the unique technology of Cryo-scanning electron microscopy has greatly influenced the field of microscopy particularly the field of acarology (the study of microscopic mites). Gary supervised a team of researchers who discovered the true feeding source of the Varroa mite on honey bees, which was featured with a colorized cover image and a publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in 2019. Gary loved teaching and mentored many scientists throughout the years, many of whom Gary and his wife Francine hosted for dinners and holidays.

In addition to his scientific work, Gary was a faithful member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Beltsville. A parishioner there for 38 years, Gary was extensively involved in parish life, catechesis, and evangelization. As leader of the Prayer Apostolate of Mary Immaculate, Gary organized and led First Saturday devotion to Our Lady and her most Holy Rosary. Gary was also committed to supporting St. Joseph’s Catholic School, including years coaching CYO teams in various sports. Gary particularly relished dressing up as St. Nicholas for various Church and school events to the great delight of adults and children alike.

Beyond his service as a scientist and parishioner, Gary was also extensively involved with Boy Scout Troop 1033, including ten years as Scoutmaster where on his watch 26 scouts achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, having completed the requirements for 21 merit badges and organizing and leading an extensive service project that benefited the community. Gary aided the Scouts in being a counselor for 30 different merit badges.

Gary loved camping and hiking, and besides trips with the Scouts he also took numerous multi-week camping trips with his family to the various national and state parks found across the entire United States.

Gary was an avid baseball fan, much like his father, and he passed this interest down to his sons as well. He loved to make visiting scientists from other countries feel welcomed by bringing them to experience baseball games. He was forever a Tigers fan but loved going to Camden Yards to see the Orioles play and became a fan of them, too. Gary always kept his old binocular case with tickets to the games he went to throughout the years.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 40 years Francine (nee Kloc) and three beloved sons, Stephen, Philip (Maureen), and Gregory, as well as two beloved grandchildren, Josephine Cyrena and Peter Athanasius. Gary is also survived by his father, Roy G. Bauchan and treasured sisters, Jenny Bauchan, Wendy Bauchan, Nancy Poelman and Tracy Davis and was preceded in death by his brother Timothy and mother Barbara Ann.

Gary Bauchan was a man of true devotion, excellence, and service. He will live on in the hearts of those that knew him and lasting memories to those he left behind.

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