Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Agricultural expert aided
growth of isle industries

ROBERT CUSHING / 1914-2001


By Rosemarie Bernardo

Through his writing and lectures, Robert L. Cushing helped make the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association Experiment Station world-class, said Dr. Robert Osgood, vice president of the station, now called the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center.

Cushing, former director of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, died on Nov. 8 at his home in Gig Harbor, Wash. He was 87 years old.

Cushing was born in Ord, Neb., on April 12, 1914. He obtained his bachelor's of science degree in agriculture in 1936 and later received a master's of science degree at the University of Minnesota.

He started his career as an agricultural extension worker in Nebraska.

Cushing arrived in Hawaii in 1947 and worked as an agronomist and agriculturist with the Hawaiian Pineapple Co. (now Dole Co.).

Four years later, he served as assistant director of the Pineapple Research Institute and served as director from 1952 to 1963. In 1963, Cushing was appointed director of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association.

"He had a very broad knowledge of agriculture," said Osgood who worked with Cushing. "Not only was he respected in Hawaii, he was respected around the world."

In 1977, a building housing a new experiment station was built in Aiea and named in his honor.

From 1968 to 1969, Cushing was chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii. He also served as executive vice president and president of the Pineapple Growers Association of Hawaii. Cushing was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from the University of Hawaii for his work in Hawaii's agriculture.

"His career spanned the dramatic post-war growth of pineapple and sugar production in Hawaii, as well as the decline of these agricultural industries," said Cushing's daughter Susan Chamberlin.

"He was proud of the part he played in agricultural research but saddened to see empty fields near the end of his life."

Cushing is survived by his sister, Marian Carlin of Corvallis, Ore.; three children, Susan C. Chamberlin of Richmond, Calif., John A. Cushing of Seoul and James R. Cushing of Gig Harbor, Wash.; and two grandsons.

A private service will be held at a later date where his ashes will be scattered at Raft Island, Wash.

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