UA Professor Emeritus Scott Hathorn Jr. Dies

UA Professor Emeritus Scott Hathorn Jr. Dies

By University Communications
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Scott Hathorn Jr.
Scott Hathorn Jr.

Scott Hathorn Jr. was passionate about his careers as an aviator and, later, an agricultural economist at the University of Arizona. 

Hathorn, a UA Professor Emeritus who served as a farming consultant to the Tohono O'odham tribe from 1982 through 1991, died Aug. 13 at the age of 88.

After serving with the Tohono O'odham Tribe, Hathorn continued to serve Arizona's agriculture industry as an agricultural farm board member of the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

"Hathorn was a highly dedicated and respected professional, a stickler for accuracy and detail, and enjoyed a wide range of friends and professional colleagues," former UA extension cotton specialist Brooks Taylor wrote in a family tribute about Hathorn.

"He was also a private man who loved to go bass fishing and frequently spoke of the special beauty of cotton fields, Arizona sunsets, the Catalina mountains and roses," the tribute continued.

Born and raised on a family farm near Alexandria, La., Hathorn graduated from Louisiana State University in the top 5 percent of his class. After earning his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics, he went on to earn a master's degree in the same area from the University of Illinois.

Shortly thereafter, in 1942, he reported for active duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

During World War II, Hathorn flew 29 bombing missions in Europe as a bomber pilot in the 458th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Corps. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor.

Two years later and upon receiving his silver pilot wings from the Army Air Corps, Hathorn was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant and trained to pilot the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, and then stationed in England through the end of the war.

He later flew 29 bombing missions over Germany while working his way up the command chain from wing crew pilot to pilot.

Hathorn also was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for conspicuous heroism and extraordinary achievement during aerial flight.

Immediately following the end of the war, Hathorn enrolled in the doctoral degree program in agricultural economics at the University of Illinois and, in 1948, was awarded his degree.

He began his professional career in academia as an assistant professor at the UA after having been assigned to improve the marketing system for Arizona cotton, which had historically been discriminated against by fabric manufacturers due to poor spinning characteristics. 

Hathorn's challenge was to create awareness and demand for newly released varieties – which had improved fiber strength and spinning characteristics – that had been developed at the UA. 

He also devised a program in which bales of the new Arizona cotton were flagged with red ribbons. This marketing program was considered a great success, resulting in increases in demand and prices for "red ribbon" Arizona cotton.

Hathorn eventually orchestrated the establishment of the Arizona Cotton Planting Seed Distributors to produce and certify the quality of cotton-planting seed in Arizona.

The cooperative also included a research component that channeled support to the UA for a cotton-breeding program to develop improved cotton varieties.

In 1951, he accepted a position with J.G. Boswell Co., an international farming company that at the time was the largest irrigated farming company in the West. He worked there for nearly two decades in various capacities managing crop productions and the company's cotton ranch in Arizona, among other things. 

During his tenure with Boswell, he was honored with an appointment by the U.S. agriculture secretary to the U.S. Cotton Advisory Board.  

Then, in 1969, Hathorn returned to the UA, where he spent almost two decades as an agricultural economist. He retired in 1987.

"Perhaps his most significant accomplishment was the then-pioneering development of computer-based, crop budget books covering all major crops for each of the southern counties of Arizona," Taylor wrote in the tribute. 

"These budget books were not only used by farmers for acquiring production loans but also as a standard for farm loan managers in Arizona and other states," Taylor continued, noting that the books were nationally and federally recognized.

In recognition of his contributions, the Arizona Cotton Growers Association awarded him its Distinguished Service Medal in 1983.

Hathorn was preceded in death by his wife of 42 years, Alice Marie (Ganzer) Hathorn. He is survived by three children: Suzanne Hathorn, Scott Hathorn III and Michael S. Hathorn; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution in Hathorn's memory is asked to send it to Patronato San Xavier, the nonsectarian and nonprofit corporation responsible for restoring Mission San Xavier del Bac. Contributions may be mailed to the attention of Vern Lamplot at P.O. Box 522, Tucson, AZ, 85702. For more information, call 520-370-2555. 

"The surrounding area of Mission San Xavier hosts the agricultural roots of Tucson from the ancient Hohokam to the present Tohono O'odham peoples," the Hathorn family wrote in a statement. "Our family wishes to recognize and honor this history in conjunction with our father's agricultural career."

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