Robert E. “Bob” Pfadt


(Jan. 19, 2009)

Robert E. “Bob” Pfadt, 93, died on Jan. 19 at the West Park Hospital Long Term Care Center in Cody.

He was born May 22, 1915, in Erie, Pa., the son of George and Margaret (Illig) Pfadt. He attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Erie. His father died when he was 16, and as a young teenager he helped provide for his mother and two sisters by working two jobs in addition to going to school.

Bob attended the University of Ohio in Athens and then moved to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming in 1935. He graduated from UW in 1938, then earned a master’s degree in zoology in 1940, and later a doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota. Bob returned to the University of Wyoming to become a professor and research scientist. As an entomologist, he became a world-renowned expert on grasshoppers.

Bob married Julia Van Deventer in 1948. Bob and Julia attended St. Mathew’s Episcopal Church for many years, where Bob served as a member of the church vestry, did monthly lay reading at the church, as well as bi-monthly services at the Bethesda nursing home. Bob and Julia had four children.

Bob served in the field of entomology for more than 60 years. He worked on projects for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, served as the head of the Entomology and Parasitology Department at the University of Wyoming and attained the honor of professor emeritus upon his retirement.

He was a member of the American Association for Advancement of Science and the Royal Entomological Society of London. His work included four textbooks on applied entomology, two children’s books, six monographs, more than 40 reference publications and numerous extension publications. His most recent work was the “Field Guide to Common Western Grasshoppers.”

Bob received the Gamma Sigma Delta award for scholarship and service to agricultural science. He is credited for having developed new methods of pest management, chronicling the history of grasshopper control and pioneering new concepts in population dynamics. He served on and chaired the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Entomology.

In 1967, he became chief of party of the Wyoming Team of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan. Bob took his family with him to Afghanistan, where they lived for two years.

Upon retiring, Bob continued his grasshopper research and worked on completing a field guide to grasshoppers. 

In 2003, Bob moved to Powell to live with his daughter, Kathy, and her family. He continued his work with grasshopper identification and classification at the University of Wyoming Extension Office in Powell. In 2004, a room in the agriculture building at the University of Wyoming was dedicated to house the collection boxes of 11,500 grasshoppers he collected. A plaque honors his career.

Besides his extensive work in the field of entomology, Bob will be remembered for his dedication to teaching. He also enjoyed working with children. He was a 4-H leader for many years. He enjoyed being a grandfather, and each of his grandchildren had an opportunity to catch grasshoppers.

Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Julia; his parents; two sisters, Dorothy and Kathryn and a son, Robert David Pfadt.

He is survived by his daughters, Kathryn Kifer (Dan) of Powell, Margaret Krier (Jim) of Rocklin, Calif., and Elizabeth Fabrizio (John) of Cody; a sister-in-law; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned at St. Mathew’s Cathedral in Laramie. Arrangements for that service will be announced.