Dana Dalrymple, 85, died of complications from pneumonia on March 7 at his home in Washington, D.C. after suffering from dementia. Colleagues, friends and family will celebrate his life at a later date to be announced.
Dalrymple, a 36-year veteran of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), worked to improve farming practices worldwide. Most of his career was spent working for CGIAR, formerly the Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research, which he supported soon after its inception in 1972. As an agricultural economist, he shaped the policies, programs and budgets of the agency’s Washington headquarters and 16 international centers in South America, Africa and Asia, and he traveled to most of them. During his career, he became an expert in Soviet agriculture, high-yielding crop varieties in the developing world, and wrote many papers showing how science and research act as a force for public good. In retirement, Dalrymple compiled and published an extensive survey of research into the use of a Chinese medicinal herb, artemisia, in treating drug-resistant malaria.
Dana Grant Dalrymple was born in Seneca Falls, N.Y., on Nov. 5, 1932 to Daniel M. Dalrymple and Esther Shappee Dalrymple. His future was foreseen by a family friend and author, Raymond F. Yates, who dedicated The Boy and the Battery (1942), a primer on electricity and magnetism, “To a little boy named Dana Dalrymple who shows an uncommon interest in the world around him.”
Dana studied at the agriculture school at Cornell University, where he found a home at the Alpha Zeta agricultural fraternity, earning an undergraduate degree (1954) studying pomology, followed by two advanced degrees in agricultural economics—the M.S. from Cornell in 1956, and, after a stint at the University of Connecticut, the Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1962.
He moved to Washington D.C. that year for a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, before transferring to USAID, where he remained for 36 years, until he retired in October 2008.
In his spare time, Dalrymple pursued other research interests. In 1980, he co-founded and co-presided over the Friends of the Palisades Library, a community group based in the northwest D.C. neighborhood to which the Dalrymples had moved a decade before. Around home, he kept a close eye on neighborhood construction projects in the capacity of “sidewalk superintendent” and indoors, he read extensively on engineering and the history of technology. Another passion of his, the history of Washington’s National Mall, culminated with his writing a chapter about the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Designing the Nation’s Capital: The 1901 Plan for Washington, D.C., published by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in 2006.
Dana was preceded in death by his wife, Helen in 2009 and his brother, Ross in 2001. He is survived by his sons, Dan, of Rockland, Maine, and Will, of London, England; brothers Doug of Bloomington, Ind., and Roger of San Leandro, Calif.; his sister Anne Krantz of Amherst, N.H. and sister-in-law Bonnie of Richmond, V.A.; three grandchildren, Kate, Tom and Emily Dalrymple, all of London; and several nieces and nephews.