First Department Head of the Department of Forest Science

merrifieldDr. Robert Glenn Merrifield
July 26, 1930 - January 30, 2010

Robert G. Merrifield, a forestry professor who became a Texas agricultural research leader, died Saturday in College Station. He was 79.

Merrifield served as an Associate director of Texas A&M University's former Texas Agricultural Experiment Station from 1977 to 1989, when he was promoted to deputy director.

As deputy director, he was essentially the head of the statewide research organization, known since 2008 as Texas AgriLife Research, an agency spokeswoman said.

Ed Hiler, an A&M colleague for about 40 years, said Merrifield helped unite the three major elements of the university's agricultural focus: teaching, research and extension.

"He had a big role in all three elements," said Hiler, who retired in 2004 as vice chancellor of agriculture and life science.

Born July 26, 1930 in Carthage, Mo., Merrifield grew up in Mena, Ark.

He earned his bachelor's degree in 1953 in Forest Management at Arkansas A&M College (now part of the University of Arkansas at Monticello).

Merrifield served in the Navy from 1953 to 1956, later retiring from the Navy Reserve as a Captain.

In 1958, he earned a master's degree in Forest Ecology at Louisiana State University, where he taught until 1967. He earned a doctorate in 1962 in Forest Ecology and Soils from Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Merrifield arrived at Texas A&M in 1967 as a forestry professor and became the first department Head of the new Forest Science Department in 1969.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Bobbie Ann Rhodes and a son, Keith Merrifield.