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William (Bill) Charles Liebhardt

William (Bill) Charles Liebhardt

February 16th, 1936 - May 5th, 2020

Biography


Beloved husband, father, sibling, and grandfather William (Bill) Charles Liebhardt passed away quietly at his home in Davis, California on May 5th, 2020. He is survived by his loving wife Kathleen; siblings Thomas, Janet, and David; four sons, Karl in Davis; Derek with daughter Geneva in Vermont; Martin and wife Julia with daughters Amanda and Audrey in Pennsylvania and Steven and wife Annette with daughter Adelaide and son Gibson in Oregon. Born in 1936 in Duluth, Minnesota, Bill grew up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. When he was 15 his father bought a rundown farm in Troy Center, Wisconsin despite several heart attacks and no farm experience. Bill took up vocational agriculture in high school to become the resident farm advisor, a chapter ahead or behind the latest catastrophe. Bill attended Lake Geneva HS, then Elkhorn HS, before attending the University of Wisconsin, where he received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. in Soil Science. Bill was a pioneer in sustainable agriculture research and the first director of the University of California’s statewide program in sustainable agriculture. He disliked funerals and the current pandemic provides a welcome excuse, but if you wish to share a personal thought, story, and photo of Bill it would be greatly appreciated. We will miss his stories and laughter. 

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About

Name William (Bill) Charles Liebhardt
Date of Birth February 16th, 1936
Date of Death May 5th, 2020
Home Town Lake Geneva, WI, US 
Other City Davis, CA, US 
In Memoriam Donation Feeding America
Milestone

Milestones

1961 Married Kathleen Byrnes on July 15
1966 - 1968 Agronomist, Standard Fruit Co. Honduras
1968 - 1970 Agronomist, Allied Chemical Co.
1970 - 1981 Associate Professor, University of Delaware
1981 - 1987 Assistant Director of Research Center, Rodale Institute
1987 - 2001 Director, The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP)
2002 - 2003 Interim Director, Rodale Institute
2003 Recipient of the Seventh Generation Award from the American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science
2010 - 2011 Interim Director, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
2018 Rodale Institute’s Organic Pioneer Award Winner

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Martin Liebhardt published a tribute .

I will miss my father, his quick laugh and his Three Stooges references to life lessons. When I was a kid, he was always happy to come out with my brothers and friends to play all time QB, or basketball. He was a devoted father and always willing to listen and give good advice. He was able to laugh at himself, but was an incredibly hard worker and very smart. Even his in his last month he was able to talk organic chemistry with his Granddaughters. I will miss our phone calls and how he would start almost every phone call with “the Packers need a Tight End, do you think they will call me”, then burst out laughing. This photo is one of my favorites, he let his granddaughters put my brother’s hair on his head after my brother had a haircut. He will be missed.

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Jerry And Linda Pisani published a comment .

We never had enough time to get to know Bill; he and Kitty on the West Coast and we on the East, but he and Jerry had a running competition with Jerry supporting Syracuse basketball and Bill supporting Wisconsin. If Wisconsin beat SU, Bill would send Wisconsin cheese and if SU beat Wisconsin, we would send Legal Seafood's clam chowder. I think we had the better deal. We loved meeting and sharing time with Kitty and Bill when Julie and Marty were married, a couple visits at the "kids'" house, and the special Disney trip. There never is enough time ----. So very sorry. He was a joy to know, even briefly. We are happy that he was Amanda's and Audrey's other Grandpa and such a positive influence for them.

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Janet Heflin published a tribute .

Bill Liebhardt was the oldest of the four children that grew up in Dwight and Eleanor’s house. Being the oldest was good fortune for Bill, as he had a fondness for that position. He did not over - step his bounds, but relished his leadership. There were three boys and one girl. William the oldest son, Thomas the second son, Janet the only daughter, and David the youngest son. Bill had many childhood success stories as well as high school, and on to the University of Wisconsin. A marble tournament champion, prom king, and a basketball star, and other achievements made him accountable in the family hierarchy. Remembering, as we grew up the younger siblings presented their acuteness and shrewdness which carried on into the adult lives of all the male members of the family. Who could run faster, shoot better basketballs. Always a challenge when we would get together. Bill was kind hearted, compassionate, and charitable toward family members, he always wanted to do the right thing. Bill was a good man, and shall be missed by his family. Janet Liebhardt Heflin

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Amy Demarest published a tribute .

Im glad to get another look at THAT HAT! Was there only one that lasted forever or did he have a secret supply so he could replace it? To me, that hat represented his true essence. Practical, totally unpretentious and a little playful. He was a good man and we were honored to be his and Kitty's friend. We loved it when they came to Vermont--especially when they stuck around a while. Love to you Kitty and family. Wishing you the comfort of happy memories! Amy Demarest/Fred Magdoff

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Richard Alleger published a tribute .

I’m really thankful the Rodale Institute honored Bill at a recognition dinner with the Organic Pioneer Award in the fall of 2018 (with Mas Matsumoto and Aaran Stephens). Although he couldn’t attend, we were able to reconnect via phone. We both started with Rodale and moving into area from long ways away at the same time.
We were partners in the week long new manager training program the fall of 1981. Couldn’t have had 2 people further apart in their careers hit it off so well as Bill and me. He agriculture and me in sales. Stayed in touch for years.
Just a fun, entertaining Good guy.....I still remember one insane story from his food engineering days in the 70s: they could basically take what amounted to a giant syringe, stick it into giant banana stalks, pulled out the juices which cause ripening so it could be shipped to states then put the juices back in! I was shocked. I had no idea. I’ve stayed on high alert regarding food supply chains ever since! Thank you Liebhardt family for sharing Bill so much.
Richard Alleger, May, 2020.

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Joe Krovoza published a tribute .

Our family couldn't have been more fortunate than to have had Bill as an elder watching over our 'hood -- across the street and one house to the west. Charlotte and Lillian were 8 and 6 when we moved to Imperial Avenue in early 2000. The "office cooler" in our case was the shared mailbox where we were fortunate to see Bill (and get to see Kitty) the most. Lillian shares that Bill could always brighten her mood. Charlotte adored the "bucket hat." I loved gleaning insights from one of UC Davis's sustainability luminaries. Bill and I could always "geek out" discussing our solar panels and the joy they provided us as we stuck it to our utility. When Kitty and Bill decided to downsize, we were so sad about their move, and then they were back and we knew they loved all us "Imperialists" just as much as we loved them. Bill would get a kick knowing he was the patriarch of Imperialists! We'll miss that wonderful guy! Take good care, all, Janet, Charlotte, Lillian and Joe Krovoza

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Ed Erdmann published a tribute .

I joined the Michael Fields board just as Bill was taking on the interim Directorship. I recall his ability to combine a practical, balanced, factual, common-sense, scientific approach to research in organic agriculture with folksy humor, story-telling, and human warmth. He was a comfort and blessing to us all.

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Sharon And Dave Pisani published a tribute .

Bill and Kitty were such fun in Disney with the kids! So glad to have met such an accomplished, kind man.

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Robert Peyton published a comment .

Bill Liebhardt was a great friend to me and my family. He was big-hearted, straight-forward and brave almost to a fault. When sustainability was a controversial goal we travel around the state having a great time promoting the idea. In the process, Bill challenged both conventional agriculture and organic agriculture to farm with best practices based on science. He was a strong leader with the rare combination of a moral compass and a wonderful sense of humor. You couldn’t ask for more. All of us send our condolences to Kitty and family. Robert, Tom, Charis, Josy, Henry, and Jackie in spirit.

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Steve And Annette published a tribute .

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Steve And Annette published a tribute .

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Steve And Annette published a tribute .

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Steve And Annette published a tribute .

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Steve And Annette published a tribute .

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Steve And Annette published a tribute .

Bill and Kitty were married on July 15, 1961. What a beautiful full life.

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Julia P. Liebhardt published a tribute .

I was lucky enough to have Bill Liebhardt as a Father-in-Law and Grandpa for my children. He was consistently warm, generous and took great delight in all his grandchildren. It was always fun to hear his many stories of growing up in Wisconsin, college hijinks, and the many adventures he and Kitty had taking their family from Honduras and all across the US. He was also an incredible wealth of information about agriculture and how it related to our table at home. (After hearing his strawberry farm stories, it was organic strawberries for us!) His love and laughter will be missed by all of us, and we are lucky to be part of his family.

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Bob Fisher published a tribute .

We knew Bill and family when both of us worked in Honduras. We too remember his infectious laugh and the times we spent together with our respective families.
Grethel & Bob

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Gebers Family published a tribute .

I will miss Bill’s wit and humor, along with his tales and stories of his adventures. He was an inspiration with his daily walks and love of laughter. Bill and Kitty have brought joy and grace to my family and me, of which they are now a part. My condolences to Kitty and the Liebhardt family, as well as all those that love Bill.

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Gerard Wong published a tribute .

Bill will be greatly missed. He was the example of a true gentleman and scholar. I called him "my brother" and he called me "my Chinese brother". He had a great sense of humor and a very unforgettable distinguished warm laugh. My late wife, Viviana, and I loved to listen to the stories he told of him and his family when they were living and working in developing countries. But nothing could be more exciting than when Viviana and I joined the Liebhardt family rooting for the progressive candidates during election time. Of course, Bill was such a news addict that we would join him to watch news channels such as CNN, MSNBC, ... after a wonderful dinner prepared by Kitty and then sitting down, rocking the chair, snacking on cheeses and sipping wine. Those were memorable moments of my life with the Liebhardt family.
Bill cared deeply about the environment, ecology, equality and dignity of developing nations. He dedicated his life's work in mitigating adverse impact to the environment and helping developing nations to be more self sufficient through innovative methods and practices. H was, in my book, a true philanthropist and a giant of humanity.

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Chapman Family published a tribute .

Biggest kid on the block! Loved hearing his stories; he seemed to have one for every situation we discussed! His jokes lightened all the worries. His friendly smile and wave as he ventured on his daily walks will forever be remembered Bill will always be considered part of our family❤️

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The Bowman Family published a comment .

When we moved to Bill’s and Kitty’s block 5 years ago, Bill instantly welcomed the kids! He challenged them to a game of basketball or raced them down the street. (He would run, while the kids would try to beat him on their bicycles and tricycles). We will always remember Bill with a smile on his face, challenging the kids to beat him in one game or another.

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Pat Fyhrie published a tribute .

I remember Bill as a passionate enthusiast! My earliest memories after we moved near Kitty and Bill in 2004 was "that wild guy" on his bicycle! He was so incredibly friendly and interested in anything you wanted to talk about .... well, especially politics, the environment and FOOD! We will miss him walking around the neighborhood and his ready smile!

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Martin Liebhardt published a tribute .

You see girls...once in a photosynthetic cell, CO2 is “fixed” or covalently bonded to an organic molecule with the help of the enzyme...

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