Obituary/In memoriam

André Vuittenez

Mr André Vuittenez passed away on 23 November 2010 at the age of 87 in Colmar, France, while working until his last day according to his wife Claudine Vuittenez. He studied natural sciences with a special emphasis on mycology and plant virology. In 1946 he began a scientific career at the central research station of INRA (National institute for agronomic research) in Versailles, France and was charged in 1949 with the mission to develop a division of plant pathology at INRA in Colmar to support agriculture in Alsace. He became director of research and managed the plant pathology station for 35 years until his retirement in 1984.

Eclectic and passionate researcher, André Vuittenez studied several plant diseases. His efforts primarily focused on grapevine and sugar beet diseases. His contributions to grapevine fanleaf disease assured him rapidly of an international reputation. André Vuittenez was also instrumental in the development of the sanitary selection of grapevine in France. By applying heat therapy, he obtained clean vines of several selections, including the heritage cultivar Klevener of Heiligenstein. Viticulturists owe a lot to André Vuittenez.

André Vuittenez’ contributions to sugar beet diseases are also important. Work in sugar beet fields in Erstein allowed him to identify rhizomania and to develop resistant beet cultivars. In 1980 the Academy of Agriculture honored André Vuittenez by awarding him the price Dufrénoy together with his colleagues Alain Trouvelot and Charles Putz. André Vuittenez published numerous articles and co-authored the book “Virus and Virus-like Diseases of Grapevine” in 1980. When he retired in 1984, he left modern tools for the investigation of plant viruses.

In 1962 André Vuittenez participated in the foundation of ICVG. He served many years as a member of the steering committee. ICVG will not only miss a very talented and active scientist but also one of its founders and honorary steering committee members.

Dr. Etienne Herrbach, INRA, Colmar, France

Günther Stellmach

Dr. Günther Stellmach passed away on 7 September 2014 at the age of 89. After attending an agricultural school, he studied Agricultural Sciences at Göttingen University where he received a PhD in plant pathology in 1956. His first position at the State Plant Protection Service led him to plant virology. His work focused on virus diagnosis in beet and potato at State and Federal institutions until he joined the Institute for Plant Protection in Viticulture at the former BBA (Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry) in 1962. At this institute, he established a working group on grapevine viruses. After 28 years of service, he retired as a deputy head of the institute in 1989.

Günther Stellmach’s work focused on graft-transmissible diseases of the grapevine. He contributed important knowledge of grapevine diseases caused by nepoviruses. Trained as a farmer and as a scientist, he was genuinely interested in the significance of his work for practical viticulture. His main concern was the development of practical diagnostic and therapeutic tools for improving the phytosanitary quality of grapevine planting material. The scientific work of Günther Stellmach led to numerous publications and was much appreciated by his colleagues. As a dedicated scientist he continued working on grape diseases and pathogens long after his retirement.

Günther Stellmach was one of the early pioneers of ICVG. He participated and contributed to many meetings starting in 1964, and served in the Steering Committee for many years. ICVG will miss one of its honorary steering committee member.

Dr. Michael Maixner, Siebeldingen, Germany

Dr. Enrico Triolo

Prof. Enrico Triolo, University of Pisa, Italy died on July 8, 2013.

Dr János Lehoczky

Motto ....”if you, yourself were also suitably pruned by the painful failures and suffering, cutting back false pride, vanity and all that are needless, what a crop you could bring for the next year, what bunches your sound shoots could bear...” Gábor Garai: As you prune grapevine

Twenty years ago the Hungarian and foreign scientific communities of vine growing and plant protection were shocked to learn that Dr. János Lehoczky gave, at the age of 68, his life back to God. As a result of his very rich and fruitful life, he was doctor of sciences, a honorary professor, and a senior officer of the Research Institute for Plant Protection of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a scientific adviser of the Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology, the owner of Horváth Géza and Linhart György memorial medals.

After János Lehoczky had graduated at the University of Agricultural Sciences, he obtained practical experiences in Belgium. Since 1948, he worked at the Department of Phytopathology of the University of Agricultural Sciences. Within a short time, the conditions for modern academic education and technical training were established at the place of the old department ruined in the Second World War. Even research started, which could go on continuously and efficiently until 1956.

In 1957, because of political reasons, he was forced to leave the University and was prohibited to work in scientific area. However, he was not left alone in his troubles. His friends and colleagues supported him, so he could return to his special field of interest. At first, he was allowed to work in the Quarantine Laboratory at the Plant Protection Service of the Ministry of Agriculture. Then in 1962, he moved to the Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology and headed the Department of Plant Protection in Viticulture. Hungarian vine growers and plant protection professionals have known his activity mainly since then. His name was always in close connection with phytopathological research and the development of plant protection programmes in grapevine.

As a consultant, he had good contacts with many vine growers. He studied the diseases that seriously endanger grapevine production (downy mildew, powdery mildew, red fire disease and grey mould). Using his research results, plant protection programmes were worked out for the safe management of vineyards, even in „epidemic years”. Though the Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology moved to Kecskemét, our personal connection did not end. He helped our work both technically and personally. We kept on developing plant protection programmes with his support, and even the methods worked out in 1993 contained certain results of his work.

He made a remarkable scientific contribution to the research of grape viruses and crown gall disease. He was one of the founders of the collection of grapevines infected with virus diseases. Publications about viruses allowed that more and more people could know these diseases in Hungary. As a result of the work he and his team accomplished, a virus-tested nuclear stock was created, containing more than 100 European scion and rootstock varieties, as well as prebasic, basic and certified stocks were established on more than 400 hectares. He was a member of the ICVG since its foundation. He greatly contributed to the work of Symposia both with his personal participation and, mostly, with his continuous publication activity. He maintained good scientific and personal relations with several well-known foreign virologists until the end of his life.

His name is well known from articles of Hungarian and foreign papers and scientific journals. However, his most famous publication is probably the book titled “The Protection of Grapevine”. His co-author was Gábor Reichart. We hoped that a new edition of this book would be published, but after he had completed his Doctor of Science thesis, his heart stopped beating on 29 July 1993.

The investigators of the Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology and the author of this commemoration consider it a great privilege that they could be in a close relationship with him, and could pretend to be his colleagues and disciples. With his passing away, the Hungarian and foreign viticulture and plant protection communities lost an excellent expert, a colleague, a friend who believed in good values, truth and honesty under any circumstances.

We affectionately keep the good memory of Him.

Janos Lazar- Maria Kolber-Zsuzsanna Dancshazy

Contact: Dr. Deborah Golino | Foundation Plant Services | University of California, Davis
1 Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616 | Email: dagolino@ucdavis.edu