A Tribute to the King of Turfgrass
For 30 years, Extension educator Roy Goss worked to establish the first research and Extension programs in turfgrass sciences in the state. Washington State University honored hat work and the man behind it by naming the primary turfgrass farm at Puyallup in his honor.
On July 25, 2006 family, friends, colleagues, students and industry representatives gathered at the annual field day to see the official renaming of Farm 5 there to “The Goss Research Farm” in honor of the many contributions Roy has made to turfgrass research and Extension, as well as for the generous gifts he and his wife, Marcie, have made to WSU. The Gosses established the Roy L. Goss Turfgrass Endowment Scholarship and are WSU Laureates.
Goss established the first research and Extension program in turfgrass sciences at WSU’s Western Washington Research and Extension Center in 1958, and served in the position for 30 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in agriculture at WSU in 1950 and 1960, respectively.
Encouraged by Professors J.K. Patterson and Alvin G. Law to pursue a turfgrass scientific program, Roy conducted research on turfgrass diseases and other issues such as climate injury and nutrient deficiencies. He evaluated turfgrass varieties that were hardier than the bentgrasses, fescues, ryegrasses, and bluegrasses in general use at that time.
Roy’s research on nutrition and diseases is widely published and highly regarded by industry professionals. His contributions to the turfgrass industry have been recognized and adopted at national and international levels. He was instrumental in keeping the Northwest Turfgrass Association (NTA), a major funding support system for turfgrass research, active through his role as Executive Director for many years. Roy was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in 1978 by the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America, and the U.S. Golf Association Green Section Award in 1988. He also received the Pacific Seedsmen Association “Man of the Year” award, and the O.A. Vogel Faculty Award at WSU.
Born in 1926 in Weslaco, Texas, he was one of four brothers and six sisters on a sharecropper farm. He developed his strong work ethic, economic values, and desire to help others there. He served in the Navy during World War II and joined WSU in the fall of 1948. Roy prepared for a career as a vocational agricultural instructor and taught at Tenino for two years, then went to work for the USDA Soil Conservation Service in Wenatchee. He enrolled in graduate school at WSU in September 1955 to pursue a Ph.D. in agronomy and was appointed to the turfgrass specialist position at the Western Washington Experiment Station in Puyallup in June 1958 while completing his degree. He remained at WSU Puyallup until his retirement in January 1988.
Roy and Marcie established the Roy L. Goss Turfgrass Endowment in 1988 to demonstrate their support for research and higher education, and to honor Roy’s distinguished career with WSU. Their gifts support programs directly related to increasing the knowledge and application of turfgrass science and management in the Pacific Northwest. Roy continues to maintain his interest in turfgrass programs and is a Master Gardener volunteer in Okanogan County, where he and Marcella reside.