Ag Museum Namesake Dies at 97

4/13/2013 7:00 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jerome K. Pasto, associate dean emeritus in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, and founder and namesake of the Pasto Agricultural Museum, died March 17 at the age of 97.

The museum will open for his friends and family 4-6 p.m. today.

Born June 21, 1915, in Monessen, Pasto was raised on a farm in New York state. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Cornell University in 1938, and was employed with the USDA Soil Conservation Service.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Pasto volunteered in the U.S. Navy and served aboard two aircraft carriers in the Pacific.

After the war, he earned his master’s degree in agriculture and his doctorate in agricultural economics at Cornell University, where he also served as an Extension specialist.

In 1950, Pasto joined the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at the Pennsylvania State College, where he wrote many articles on his research.

In the late 1950s, while on leave, he served as a specialist with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at its headquarters in Rome. He traveled widely in Asia, conducting seminars on farm production constrained by limited agricultural resources.

In 1968, Pasto was appointed associate dean of resident education in the College of Agricultural Sciences. In 1971, he was named among the Outstanding Educators of America and served as president of the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture.

Pasto’s interest in collecting antique farm and home equipment resulted in an agricultural museum, which originally featured largely his personal collection.

The College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society raised funds for the construction of a building at the Ag Progress Days site at Rock Springs and recommended that the collection be named the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

After Pasto retired in 1980 as associate dean emeritus and professor emeritus of agricultural economics, he continued as volunteer curator of the museum until 1999. In 1991, he and his wife, Frances Pasto, who died in 2000, initiated an endowment for the museum. In 1996, they established the Heritage Trust for the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

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