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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Passing of Former Research Leader

Dale F. Heermann, 71, passed away on Feb. 16, 2009, of pancreatic cancer. Dale was born in Scribner, Neb., on March 2, 1937, to Frank and Esther Heermann. He was raised in Scribner, Neb., graduating from Scribner High School in 1954 and married Betty Tuchenhagen July 21, 1957. He attended and received his B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from University of Nebraska in 1959. After graduation, he entered the U.S. Air Force, serving as a First Lieutenant at Eglin AFB, Fla., and F.E. Warren, Cheyenne, Wyo., from 1959 to 1962. After his military service Dale attended CSU receiving his M.S. in 1964 and PhD in 1968, both in Agricultural Engineering. Following graduation he began his long career with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. He retired from the USDA ARS in 2005 after a very satisfying and productive career. Dale derived the mathematical formulation to describe the hydraulics of center pivot irrigation systems and developed a computer program for pivot evaluation and design that is incorporated into the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service national toolbox. He derived the methodology for computing uniformity of irrigation by center pivots, which is incorporated into both U.S. and International Standards. Dale pioneered computer irrigation scheduling technology for center pivots based on local weather data and irrigation application in 1969. He was a leader in promoting improved irrigation management throughout the U.S. and internationally. In 1980, he led a team that integrated irrigation scheduling technology into computerized controls for center pivots, and worked closely with industry to successfully incorporate this technology into the marketplace. Dale also served on a National Academy of Science panel which developed a report "Future of Irrigation in the Face of Competing Demands and Water Quality Constraints." Dr. Heermann had more than 150 technical publications, and made more than 100 technical presentations at national and international meetings. He was recognized internationally as an authority on center pivot irrigation and precision farming, and has been invited to Saudi Arabia, England, Netherlands, Israel, Portugal, Belgium, China, and Chile as an advisor. He was a member of four national academic honorary societies, and has been recognized by the Irrigation Association as "Man of the Year" in 1985; by Colorado State University College of Engineering in 1988 as Alumnus of the Year; by American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) with the John Deere Gold Medal in 1990 and elected a society Fellow in 1991; by the U.S. Department of Energy in 1994 with a national Water and Energy Conservation Award. His hometown of Scribner, NE presented him their "Native Son" award in 1996; and the Secretary of Agriculture with the Secretary's Superior Service Award in 2002; the ASABE Hancour Soil & Water Award, 2005; University of Nebraska Hall of Fame Award, 2006. The ASABE endowed the Heermann Sprinkler Award in Dr. Heermann's name to be awarded annually in 2007. In addition to his professional career Dale faithfully served in several leadership roles at Peace with Christ Lutheran Church. He was also actively involved in the community through the South Fort Collins Sanitation District and the Fairway Estates Homeowners Association. Dale's leadership, compassion, energy, generosity and eagerness to help will be greatly missed by those close to him. He was a witness and inspiration to many with his steadfast faith. Dale is survived by his wife, Betty; their three children and five grandchildren, daughter, Sara (Jerry) Buchleiter, Rachel and Jonathan of Fort Collins; son, Philip (Mae), Austin, Nathan and Laura of Albuquerque, N.M.; and daughter, Laura (Patrick) Langford of Salt Lake City, Utah. He is also survived by his sister, Judy (Mike) Flynn of Omaha, Neb.; his mother-in-law, Louise Tuchenhagen, Fort Collins; and sister-in-law, Joanne (Manis) Edwards of Wichita, Kan. He is preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Esther Heermann; sister, Dolores and his father-in-law, Albert Tuchenhagen. The family would like to thank the staff at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Cancer Center for their extraordinary care and compassion throughout Dale's illness. We would also like to thank our church family and numerous friends who have extended their prayers and support. Memorials can be made to Peace with Christ Lutheran Church, the ASABE Heermann Sprinkler Award or the Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Network (PanCAN) in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 650 W. Drake Rd. Fort Collins, Co 80526. Visitation will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22, at Allnutt Drake Chapel. Funeral Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday Feb. 24 at Peace with Christ Lutheran Church 1412 W. Swallow, Fort Collins. Interment will be in Scribner, Neb.

Last Modified: 2/26/2009
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