"Vision" was a word uttered early and often at a March luncheon in honor of Blanton J. Whitmire, benefactor of the two endowed professorships in the College’s Department of Entomology. "Thank you for having the vision that anticipated our new way of doing business through partnerships," said Dr. Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Professor of Structural Pest Management. "You had a clear understanding of where we were going globally and allowed us to build a center for excellence in research in structural entomology."
Dr. Jules Silverman, Charles G. Wright Professor of Structural Pest Management, likewise thanked Whitmire for his vision and commitment to the department’s program in urban entomology, then mentioned the "impressive list of accomplishments that I hope to add to" and outlined where the program was going. (The Wright Professorship is the second of the two endowed by Whitmire and was named for his longtime research partner and friend in the department, Dr. Charles Wright.)
"Vision," added Dr. James Harper, Entomology Department head, "is a good word to describe the types of people who are given Watauga Medals by N.C. State University."
Indeed, the luncheon honoring Whitmire was in recognition of his having received the Watauga Medal, the highest nonacademic honor bestowed by the university, the evening before at the university’s Founders’ Day dinner. The event marked the 113th anniversary of the university’s founding.
N.C. State annually presents Watauga Medals to citizens who have demonstrated distinguished service to the university. This year’s medals were presented by N.C. State Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and N.C. State Faculty Chair Fred Corbin to Dr. Terrence M. Curtin, founding dean of N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine; Jack P. Jordan, executive vice president of Jordan Lumber & Supply Inc. and president of Anson Wood Products Inc.; and Whitmire.
Whitmire, retired president and CEO of Whitmire Research Laboratories Inc. of St. Louis, Mo., began his career in 1937 when he joined his brother in a small St. Louis firm that developed pest control products. Among his accomplishments at Whitmire Research Laboratories, in 1962 he conceived the idea for safer indoor insecticide application known as "Crack and Crevice" insect treatment, an important component of integrated pest management. Noted for his concern for the environment, Whitmire, in partnership with scientists in the Department of Entomology, envisioned and championed the creation and use of less intrusive chemical technologies years before others in the field.
In 1986, Pest Control Technology Magazine named him the Man of the Year. In 1987, he spurned offers from larger companies to buy Whitmire Research Laboratories and turned over ownership of the company to its employees.
In establishing the two distinguished professorships, he provided more than $3 million toward these endowments.
Harper said Whitmire’s support had enabled the Entomology Department to put the faculty in place "to move this structural pest management program forward. Your gift served as the mechanism that allowed us to develop our pest management group and to implement your vision of the proper use and development of methods dealing with insects and structures."
After the luncheon, Whitmire returned to Gardner Hall on main campus, where Entomology faculty members and students displayed examples of their research activities in structural pest management.