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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 82
October 1, 1907–February 18, 1997
BY WILFORD R.GARDNER
CECIL WADLEIGH WAS A multi-faceted scientist. His youth on a farm taught him that pragmatism was a virtue but also aroused in him an interest in finding new and better agricultural practices and better crop varieties. He was a large man with a dignified demeanor that masked a sly sense of humor. His wit could easily deflate a colleague who showed signs of arrogance, but it was demonstrated in a good-natured rather than mean-spirited way. He could be charmingly persuasive and persistent, especially as an administrator.
Cecil was born in Gilbertsville, Massachusetts, on October 1, 1907, as the only son of Hazen Carl and Lucy (Whitehead) Wadleigh. He lived from 1909 to 1919 on his father’s dairy farm, a not uncommon childhood and youth for agricultural scientists of his generation. His school bus was his father’s milk delivery wagon, an arrangement that allowed him to work two to three hours before school. In the 1920s he moved to his father’s 225-acre fruit and vegetable farm in Milford, Massachusetts. Characteristic of farm families, Cecil’s father expected diligent work “only 99 percent of the time.” Cecil preferred work in the orchards to that on the dairy farm if only because of the more pleasant byproducts. This preference may have influenced Cecil’s later choice of