Cover photo for William Pruitt's Obituary
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1922 William 2009

William Pruitt

April 10, 1922 — January 26, 2009

IN LOVING MEMORY of William O. Bill Pruitt, Jr., who passed away on January 26, 2009.

Born April 10, 1922 in Yakima, Washington State to William O. Pruitt, Sr. and Maudie Lee Barr Pruitt, Bill was raised in the small apple farming community of Cowiche, Washington. He served his country during World War II, commissioned as an ensign from the U.S. Naval Midshipman School, Notre Dame. During his time of military service, on October 11, 1944, he married Ada Vera Struthers in Philadelphia.

Returning to Washington after the war, he completed his education in Agricultural Engineering at Washington State University, Pullman. The family moved to Davis in 1957, where Bill worked for 30 years as Irrigation Engineer and Lecturer in Water Science at the University of California in the department of Water Science and Engineering. He was awarded the title of Lecturer Emeritus and Irrigation Engineer in 1987, as a testimony of his widely recognized dedication to public service, teaching and research.

Bill was one of the worlds leading authorities on evapotranspiration and water supply management for efficient irrigation. He served as project leader for numerous studies sponsored by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Weather Bureau, the World Meteorological Organization, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others. He was an active member of the Irrigation and Drainage Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers and American Society of Agricultural Engineers.

At U.C. Davis, he designed and built the largest weighing lysimeter in the world in 1958 to develop basic understanding of water use by crops. The underground facility still serves as a sophisticated research facility, collecting crop water use data for over 40 years. His widely translated, co-authored book with Doorenbos in 1975 on crop water requirements for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations, still serves as a universal reference for many countries around the world.

His work as a teacher and researcher took him to Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and Australia. He was often joined in his travels by his wife Ada.

Bill was always a Good Samaritan, taking to heart Gods commandment to love others, and willing to help those in need wherever he found them. He was a kind, compassionate and considerate man who loved his Lord and his family. Both he and Ada were always hospitable, providing a home away from home for family, friends and acquaintances from around the world. They were founding members of University Covenant Church, and always served and deeply loved their church family.

Ada, his beloved wife of 64 years, preceded him in death on September 29, 2008. He is survived by children Joy McSweeney and husband Mike, Tina McClara and husband Mike, Lisabeth Angell and husband Bud, and William J. Pruitt and wife Melanie; grandchildren Ryan McSweeney, Sean McSweeney and wife Lynelle, Ben and Nick McClara, Julianne Mauldin and husband Matt, David Ice and wife Amanda, Tabatha McMahon, and Marie, Ellen and Christopher Pruitt; great-grandchildren Brooke and Ryan McClara, Ashlen and Camden McSweeney, and Caleb Ice; and many loving nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at University Covenant Church on Friday, January 30th at 10:30 a.m. A private burial for family and close friends will take place at Davis Cemetery following the memorial.

Contributions may be made either to the International Outreach Fund or to the Building Fund, University Covenant Church, 315 Mace Blvd., Davis, CA 95618.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William Pruitt, please visit our flower store.


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