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Robert M. Pool, noted Cornell viticulturist, dies after long illness

GENEVA, N.Y. -- Robert M. Pool, professor emeritus of viticulture at Cornell, died at his home June 10 after a long illness. Pool's research, extension work and teaching contributed significantly to the science and practice of viticulture and positively influenced New York's wine and grape industries.

"His work elevated the stature of viticulture at Cornell and earned him the respect and friendship of grape researchers worldwide. Bob will also be remembered as a highly effective and caring teacher and mentor who touched the lives of many Cornell students," said Thomas J. Burr, director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.

Pool's primary research interests included mechanization of pruning, crop level as it affects grape and wine quality, sustainable viticulture, vineyard floor management and weed control, the effects of cultural practices and rootstocks on cold hardiness, interaction of disease (fungal, bacterial and viral) and vine productivity.

Pool was active in developing national grape germplasm repositories at Davis, Calif., and Geneva. He formed and for 10 years chaired the Grape Commodity Advisory Committee to the National Plant Germplasm Committee. He served on the advisory committees of New York's regional grape extension specialists, on Cornell's statewide fruit extension committee and was an active participant in writing extension publications, organizing research tours and presentations, and training extension agents.

In 1997 Pool received the Cantarelli Prize from the Italian Academy of Vine and Wine in recognition of his contributions to research in the mechanical regulation of crop load and fruit quality in grapes, as well as the impact and consequences of his work on the reduction of production costs for the vine and wine industry.

Pool was born in Sacramento, Calif., in 1940 and graduated from the University of California-Davis, with degrees in enology (1962) and food science (1969). He received his Ph.D. in pomology from Cornell in 1974 and joined the Cornell faculty as an assistant professor of viticulture. He was named professor in 1988 and retired earlier this year.

Pool recently realized a lifelong dream by opening his own vineyard and winery, Billsboro, in Geneva, which features several varietals. He was proudest of his pinot noir wines, made from a clonal selection based on his research.

Pool is survived by his wife of 25 years, Jennifer Morris, two sons and a daughter. Memorial contributions can be made in Pool's name to the Mission Committee Fund for Youth Mentoring, care of the Presbyterian Church, 24 Park Place, Geneva, NY 14456.

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