Cover photo for Roger Darlington Way's Obituary
Roger Darlington Way Profile Photo

Roger Darlington Way

November 7, 1918 — June 2, 2019

Roger D. Way, 100, died at Foxdale Village, State College on Sunday, June 2.

Roger was just four days old when WWI ended. When the news reached the rural Stormstown, PA home, his mother, a pacifist Quaker was so overcome with joy, she let her crying baby wail.

Roger was the second of seven children born to Ina Alice Whiteley Way and Darlington Hoopes Way. Darlington and Ina were the third generation to own and manage the 300 acre fruit and dairy farm that remains in the family today.

Roger earned both Bachelor's (1940) and Master's (1942) degrees in horticulture from the Pennsylvania State University.

Roger's pacifist beliefs led him to declare conscientious objector status in response to the military service draft in 1942. As a result, he spent the next four years in a Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp in Bowie, Maryland.

Following the war, he did relief work for two and a half years in rural China with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization. The Friends Ambulance Unit rehabilitated and operated mission hospitals in post-war Honan and Yunnan. The Unit also assisted local people in creating textile and brick-making cooperatives. In 1947 the AFSC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Returning home, he chose to sail via the Indian Ocean so he could later jovially boast, and did, that he had been around the world.

Roger's apple-growing beginnings launched him on a pomological path. In 1953 he received a PhD degree from Cornell University in pomology (the study of pome fruits) and he married Mary Elizabeth Otis, a Quaker from Cayuga County, NY.

Dr. Way was a research scientist at Cornell University's Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY. There he bred thousands of apple seedlings each spring. Over the course of his career, he and his associates introduced sixteen varieties of apples, seven varieties of cherries and one variety of elderberry to commercial growers and nurseries based on their taste, size, texture, and resistance to disease and insect pests. The Jonagold and Empire apples brought him worldwide recognition.

Dr. Way relished his 34 years at the research station so much that he continued to work full and then half-days for sixteen years following his official retirement in 1983.

Though his origins were humble, Dr. Way believed he could achieve great things through hard work and determination and he strove to instill a similar confidence and self-reliance in each of his and Mary's four children: Edward, Charles, Thomas and Shirley. Roger is survived by his wife, Mary of State College, PA, son, Edward and his wife, Sue of Carbondale, CO, their daughter, Vanessa of Glenwood Springs, CO, son, Charles of San Diego, CA, son, Thomas of Auburn, AL, and daughter, Shirley of Ithaca, NY.

A memorial service will be held on June 29 at 2 pm in the auditorium at Foxdale Village. Memorial contributions may be made to the Foxdale Community Fund.

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