Obituary: August “Gus” De Hertogh

Gus De Hertogh surrounded by flowers.

August A. “Gus” De Hertogh, a former NC State University department head, died Oct. 26. He was an internationally known expert on the physiology, handling and forcing of flower bulbs so they will bloom at precise times. A memorial gathering took place Sunday, Oct. 28.

Through teaching, research and leadership, De Hertogh leaves a rich legacy at NC State and its Department of Horticultural Science, where he served as department head for almost a decade. His research and publishing accomplishments have also benefited the commercial horticulture industry through partnerships he built between the industry and the university.

De Hertogh’s basic and applied research is credited with having significantly increased the efficiency of production of flowering bulbs here and abroad.

De Hertogh, born in Chicago of immigrants of Belgium, was a two-time graduate of NC State. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1957 and his master’s in 1961 in crop science. He earned his Ph.D. in botany at Oregon State University.

He went on to join the horticulture faculty at Michigan State in 1965, where he received extensive grants from the Netherlands. He incorporated his and other research findings into widely used “how-to-do-it” schedules for handling and forcing flower-bulbs.

In 1978 he joined the NC State faculty, bringing his flower bulb research with him when he became head of the university’s Horticultural Science Department.

Elected a fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science in 1991, De Hertogh held leadership positions in several areas of the society’s work. He also won many awards and honors, including NC State’s Innovator Award, the Medal of Honor from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries from the Hague, the Netherlands, and awards from national and international industry associations.

De Hertogh is survived by his wife, Mary Belle, six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. To honor De Hertogh, consider donating to the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State or the American Diabetes Association in North Carolina.

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.