Northcrest Community

John Pesek

John Pesek

John T. Pesek, Jr., 97, of Ames, Iowa passed away on February 11, 2019 at Northcrest Community in Ames. 

John was born on November 15, 1921 near Hallettsville, Texas. He was the oldest child of Elizabeth (Kallus) Pesek and John T. Pesek. He is preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Victor; a sister, Kitty; his wife, Isabel; and a daughter, Rebecca. John is survived by his son, Brian; daughter, Cindy; son-in-law, Philippe Vandeweghe; and granddaughters, Natalie and Courtney.

John graduated from Jourdanton HS in 1938 and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Education from Texas A&M in 1943. He was a member of the 98th Bomb Group within the 15th Air Force serving as a radar navigator during WWII. After the war he continued his education receiving his M.S. in Agronomy from Texas A&M and Ph.D. in Agronomy from North Carolina State University.

Dr. Pesek began a long and distinguished career at Iowa State in 1950 as an assistant professor in soils. He served as head of the agronomy department for 26 years. During his term as head from 1964 to 1990, he also served as interim dean of agriculture from 1987 to 1988. He worked extensively internationally, emphasizing the environment, production agriculture and education. He spearheaded the development of the Agronomy and Agricultural Engineering Research Farms and oversaw the efforts to secure funding for Agronomy Hall’s substantial building addition. Dr. Pesek was named a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, the Iowa Academy of Science, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as president of both the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America and helped establish the nation's first National Soil Tilth Laboratory, a USDA-ARS facility in Ames, IA (now called the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment). Dr. Pesek was named a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture at Iowa State University in 1981 and received the Agronomic Service Award from the American Society of Agronomy in 1989. Pesek retired in 1992. He received the Iowa State University Honorary Alumni Award in 2014 and is an emeritus member of the Iowa Academy of Science.

John was a caring and compassionate man who always gave of himself to his family, friends, professional colleagues and Church. He was a quiet, gentle man with seemingly endless knowledge and a sense of humor that will be missed by close friends and family. He was a long-time member of St. Cecilia Catholic Church. 

Mass of the Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2:30 P.M. on Friday, February 15, 2019 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Ames. Visitation will be held at the church for one hour prior to the Mass. Burial will be in the ISU cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial gifts to St. Cecilia Catholic Church, 2900 Hoover Avenue, Ames, Iowa 50010, or the Northcrest Community Foundation, 1801 20th Street, Ames Iowa 50010.

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