|Kent W. Kurtz, professor emeritus in the Horticulture, Plant & Soil Science department,|
Kent W. Kurtz, a professor emeritus in the Horticulture, Plant & Soil Science department for 35 years and recognized leader in the turfgrass and golf course management industry, died from cancer on Feb. 18. He was 65 years old.
A resident of Arcadia, Kurtz joined the department in 1969, before the turfgrass program existed. By the time he retired from Cal Poly Pomona in June 2004, it was among the top turfgrass programs in the western United States, and he had become one of Southern California's leading experts in the management of turfgrass for the golf course, sports turf and landscape industries.
His numerous awards and accomplishments include a renovation of the university's Scolinos field with assistance from his students. He was a founding member of the Southern California Turfgrass Council and recipient of their Distinguished Service Award. Kurtz was an active member of the Sports Turf Managers Association and recognized as Sport Turf Magazine's “Man of the Year” award in 1993. He was involved in preparing stadiums for the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Freedom Bowl, as well as two major league All Star games.
Of all the honors he has received, Kurtz was most proud of being an active adviser and mentor to students, what he considered his “second family.” Over the years, Kent placed as many as 200 graduates in careers at local golf courses and major stadiums. Thanks to Kurtz, alumni now hold leadership positions in the U.S. Golf Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and throughout the industry.
“Kent upheld and instilled values in our students that are hard to teach in the classroom,” says Terry Fujimoto, Horticulture, Plant & Soil Science professor. “As an adviser, he was a strong advocate of developing and building character in our students so that they'd be able to perform in industry.”
Kurtz is survived by his wife, Marilynn; daughter, Heather; son, Todd; and brother, Kerry.
He will be buried in Durand, Ill. His family plans to hold a memorial service in this area; details will be released as soon as they have been finalized.