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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 72
JAMES GORDON HORSFALL
January 9, 1905–March 22, 1995
BY PAUL E. WAGGONER
JAMES GORDON HORSFALL, who called himself a squirt gun botanist, fought the ''rusts and rots that rob us, the blasts and the blights that beset us."1 His writing inspired plant pathologists. He raised the quota of fundamental research in agriculture and the quota of agriculture in fundamental research.
Horsfall was born January 9, 1905, in Mountain Grove, Missouri, where his father Frank, poor as a church mouse, worked at a tiny independent fruit experiment station. He grew up in Monticello, Arkansas, where his father presided over an agricultural school. His mother was Margaret Vaulx Horsfall. The strength of the father's example was demonstrated by three sons who became a plant pathologist, an entomologist, and an horticulturist. Horsfall, claiming the essential ingredient of a scientist was nonconformity, traced his own nonconformity to a grandfather sent to shoot birds along the Mississippi river by a well-to-do English great-grandfather. Horsfall entitled his autobiography "The Story of a Nonconformist."2 Although he would spend most of his life in the northeast, Horsfall never forgot his agricultural roots; he featured his country connections, and when