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Dr. Clay McCoy

Raised in Minnesota and therefore Clay appreciated Florida winters.  I first met him at a USDA open house at the old research lab in Orlando.  He was culturing a fungus in 5 gallon water jugs.  This was the first effort to use a fungus to control rust mites in Florida citrus.  A lifelong friendship followed.  Clay and I put out his fungus (hirsetella) to see if he could enhance control.  A few years later he moved from USDA to IFAS at Lake Alfred where he spent the majority of his career dealing with citrus pests such as diaprepes, other weevils, mites (especially the rust mite), and any other potential enemy of citrus.  He was just not a bio control guy, but a true IMP believer.

My favorite story with Clay was the night he was the speaker at a grower school.  His father was visiting from Minnesota.  By the way Clay was raised on a farm and understood what is was like to fight the elements, pests, markets, etc.  Anyway as the talk progressed an ex Marine living in Winter Garden (small citrus grower) started asking Clay some degrading questions like "have you ever grown citrus yourself" and it went downhill from there.  This is the only time I ever had a intoxicated individual disrupt a meeting.  I quickly started looking for help, as in several large individuals.  Fortunately this grower's wife managed to get him outside and into their car (she apologized profusely and said they stopped a couple of times on their way to the meeting so he could get a drink).  Clay was magnificent as he handled the Marine beautifully.  There were many more meetings that Clay was the speaker, but he always wanted to know if the Winter Garden Marine would be there!

Clay had Parkinson's for a number of years and fought a strong fight.  Unfortunately it was not the disease that got Clay, it was a car accident.  He was one of the finest researchers I ever worked with.  He understood grower issues and put them first.  He also could handle a Marine that had a few too many.  Those good ole Lutherans from Minnesota are cool under fire!


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