November 13, 1916–November 11, 1998
BY MAY BERENBAUM AND RICHARD LAMPMAN
ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1998, two days before what would have been his eighty-second birthday, Robert Lee Metcalf died in his home in Urbana, Illinois. Thus ended one of the most influential lives of twentieth-century entomology. More than any other single individual, Metcalf made the goal of environmentally compatible pest management achievable. Over the course of five decades, he worked tirelessly toward implementing scientifically rational and environmentally sustainable pest control, and for many of those years he was a passionate, courageous, and articulate spokesperson for a viewpoint that was distinctly unpopular among some of his peers.
Metcalf was born on November 13, 1916, at Columbus, Ohio, son of Clell Lee and Cleo Esther Fouch Metcalf. At the time, his father was an assistant professor of entomology at Ohio State University. Metcalf’s entomological heritage was deep, indeed; Clell’s brother, Zeno P.Metcalf, also became a well-known entomologist. When Robert was five, he moved with his family to Urbana, Illinois, where his father had been appointed as head of the Department of Entomology; Clell would serve in this capacity for 26 years. Robert attended the University of Illinois and received his bachelor’s degree in 1939; a year later, in his father’s department and under