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Fenne, Sanford Bernell, 1903-1978



  • Existence: 1903 - 1978

Biographical Note

Sanford Bernell "Chuck" Fenne was born in Madison, Wisconsin on August 14, 1903, to parents Tollef E. and Anna Vinge Fenne. By 1910, the Fennes had moved to York County, Virginia. Fenne entered Virginia Tech (then Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute) in 1919, but left school after his junior year to manage a dairy farm for two years. He served as an extension agent in Augusta County from 1924 to 1926, then returned to Virginia Tech to complete a bachelor's degree in agriculture. Following his 1927 graduation, Fenne married Catherine "Cay" Crafton (1906-1997) of Staunton, Virginia. That same year, he was appointed acting Virginia Extension plant pathologist. In this position, Fenne planned and conducted projects relating to the control of various plant diseases. He worked as an extension agent in Washington County from 1928 to 1930.

Fenne earned a master's degree in agriculture at Virginia Tech in 1930 and pursued a doctoral degree in plant pathology at Cornell University while working summers as a student assistant at the New York Experiment Station in Geneva. His dissertation remaining unfinished, Fenne was appointed plant pathologist with the USDA's Dutch Elm Eradication Program in White Plains, New York in 1934. He continued working on Dutch elm disease control while serving as superintendent of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp from 1935 to 1937. During the latter half of 1937, Fenne served as assistant county agent for Lancaster County, Virginia, before being appointed extension specialist in plant pathology for the Georgia Extension Service. In 1939, he was appointed Virginia Extension plant pathologist, engaging in various public information programs. In 1943, he was granted a year's leave of absence to serve in the Comissão Brasileiro-Americana a cooperative war emergency food project of the Food Supply Division, Institute of Inter-American Affairs. Chief of Brazil's Region 4, Fenne coordinated the distribution of seeds, farming implements, and monetary loans to the region's farmers and also oversaw cooperative agricultural education programs.

Fenne returned to Virginia Tech as project leader in plant pathology in January, 1945. In 1953, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Confined to a wheelchair by 1956, he continued to work, founding the Plant Disease Newsletter (later the Plant Protection Newsletter), producing several bulletins issued by the Extension Service regarding plant disease, and writing a detailed history of Virginia Extension plant pathology from 1923 to 1957. He retired in 1967, but continued to be active through woodworking and gardening. Sanford B. Fenne died on November 16, 1978.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Curtis W. Roane History of Plant Pathology in Virginia and Biographies of Plant Pathologists Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Ms-1999-008
Scope and Contents Collection consists of "A History of Plant Pathology in Virginia" and biographies of individual plant pathologists written by Professor Emeritus Curtis W. Roane from the Department of Plant Pathology at Virginia Tech. The history covers the period from 1888-1974 and is divided into eras: "The Pre-Alwood Era," "The Alwood Era (1888-1904)," "The Reed Era (1908-1915)," "The Fromme Era (1915-28)," "The Wingard Era (1928-1964)," "The Couch Era (1965-74)," "The Foy Era, (July 1, 1974 to August 30,...
Dates: 1993 - 1999

Sanford Bernell Fenne Papers,

Identifier: Ms-1987-054

Papers of Sanford Bernell "Chuck" Fenne, a graduate of Virginia Tech (BS, 1927; MS, 1930), and a Virginia Agricultural Extension plant pathologist from 1939 to 1967, including correspondence, writings, biographical materials, photographs, a Virginia Tech scrapbook, and a photo album compiled during a year (1943-1944) spent working in Brazil for the Food Supply Division, Institute of Inter-American Affairs.

Dates: 1918 - 1970