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John Lee Crites (1923-2010).

John Lee Crites, 86, Professor Emeritus of Zoology at The Ohio State University and noted parasitologist, died 9 January 2010. The cause of death was respiratory failure due to pneumonia. Joining the U.S. Army (August 1943), he served in the infantry in the Pacific Theater of Operations, attaining the rank of Technical Sergeant. In the last months of military service (April 1945-January 1946), he was a parasitologist with the Army Medical Corps in the Philippines and Japan. Crites was designated a "spot-light teacher" by undergraduate students at OSU (1962) for his excellence in teaching. A pioneer in the study of parasites of fishes of the Great Lakes, he determined parasite cycles of yellow perch. Crites was also a consultant for various government agencies and a reviewer for scientific journals.

Crites joined The Ohio Academy of Science in 1953 while he was a graduate student. He affiliated with the section on zoology (vice president, 1977-1978), was elected a Fellow (1959), and became a life member (1982). He regularly participated in the Academy's annual meetings by presenting papers. An active member of the organization, Crites served as a judge for student projects in biology and was the Central District representative to the Junior Academy (1956-1962). He provided administrative guidance through his membership on the Council of the Academy (1980-1983) and the Executive Committee (1981-1982). Crites served as Academy president (1981-1982) and presented his presidential address on "Diversity and Commonality" at the organization's 91st annual meeting, 24 April 1982.

Born 10 July 1923 in Wilmington, OH, Crites was the son of Wilfred John and Mildred Jane (Baker) Crites. Young Crites attended the Wilmington public schools, graduating from Wilmington High School (1941). He then entered the University of Idaho; however, military service interrupted his studies. After being discharged from the armed services, he resumed his college education. At UI he earned a B.S. in zoology (1949) and entered graduate school there. His studies focused on parasitology, a field in which he became interested while serving in the Pacific. Crites earned an M.S. in parasitology (1951). His thesis concerned a survey of visceral parasites of the ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus Linn., in northern Idaho and was published in part (Bulletin --Idaho Fish and Game Commission 2(3): 24-28. 1951). Crites subsequently matriculated at OSU, where he received a Ph.D. in zoology with an emphasis on parasitology (1956). Under the direction of professor Joseph N. Miller, he wrote his dissertation on the "Studies on the Morphology, Taxonomy, and Life History of Cruzia americana Maplestone, 1930, a Parasitic Nematode of Didelphis marsupialis virginiana" which was published in part (J. Parasitol. 42(1): 68-72. 1956).

His early professional positions were: teaching assistant in zoology, anatomy, physiology, and parasitology, UI (1949-1951); assistant (1951) and assistant instructor (1953), both in zoology, OSU. While still working on his doctorate, Crites was appointed instructor in the Department of Zoology (now Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology), OSU. There, he advanced in the academic ranks: instructor (1955-1959), assistant professor (1959-1963), associate professor (1963-1967), professor (1967-1990),professor emeritus (beginning 1990). He chaired the department from 1981 to 1990. Crites was a research investigator at the Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory (1956), where he studied the distribution of aquatic nematodes in Lake Erie and their relationship to the fish food chain. He conducted additional research as a National Science Foundation Fellow at Duke University's Marine Biological Laboratory (1958). Early in his career Crites became a consultant to USAID-NSF to plan and direct, on a trial basis, a biology institute at Migarh Muslim University and to assist with an institute at Banaras Hindu University (spring and summer, 1964). He visited several universities and colleges in northern India. The trial institutes were successful, and they were expanded and continued for a number of years. While in India, the U.S. Government asked Crites to visit several organizations that supported programs in parasitology before and after his stint.

Crites was known as an outstanding, affable, and gifted professor who taught invertebrate zoology and parasitology on the main OSU campus as well as at Stone Laboratory. He taught over 15 different zoology courses during his tenure at OSU. He developed and introduced into the curriculum the first course dealing with parasites of fishes and wild animals in any university. He conducted a focused research program in parasitology for over three decades. His research and publications entailed investigations on nematode parasites of animals; nematode parasites of plants; free-livingnematodes, both marine and freshwater; and the biology, pathology, development, life histories, and taxonomy of parasites of fish and wild animals. Under Crites's direction, his laboratory produced many students and published volumes of scholarly research in the leading scientific journals. He set high standards and led by example. He asked nothing of his students that he would not do himself. In the field Crites pulled as many trawls as his students. In teaching he instilled his genuine sense of wonder about animals and parasites and conveyed this appreciation to all his students in the courses he taught. His enthusiasm and superb skill in communication contributed to his outstanding teaching. Numerous students enrolled in his parasitology classes because of his reputation for rigorous teaching and the passion he brought to the class. Crites was truly a'model scientist' who promoted a lasting curiosity as well as a strong work ethic in his students.

He held a joint appointment at the Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island, Put-in-Bay, OH, where he taught animal parasitology and zoology in summers (1965, 1967-1980). There he investigated the bird and fish parasites of Lake Erie. At the Laboratory he was associate director during the 1970s. His research lab on the island was among the most active, producing numerous graduate students who developed successful and distinguished careers.

In professional associations he held memberships in the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Microscopical Society, the American Society of Parasitologists (council member), the Annual Midwest Conference of Parasitologists, the Helminthological Society of Washington (editorial board), the International Association for Great Lakes Research, the Ohio Fish and Wildlife Association, the Wildlifc Disease Association, and the World Federation of Parasitologists. In honorary societies he was elected to Alpha Epsilon Delta, Gamma Sigma Delta, Phi Sigma, and Sigma Xi.

A talented artist in both pen and ink and watercolor, Crites created some beautiful art work. His pen and ink line drawings of buildings at Stone Lab are among his most noteworthy. Numbered prints of them are available to those who donate to the scholarship that bears his name, the John L. Crites Research Fellowship at Stone Laboratory Fund. His former students established the fund in 2002 through donations and proceeds from the sale of Crites's prints. To date, the endowment has supported numerous scientists and students working at the lab, including over 60 students who participated in the Laboratory's Research Experience for Undergraduates since 2005. The endowment is an example of Crites's lasting legacy.

In retirement Crites and his wife, Phyllis, spent several-winters in Ocean Springs, MS, where they relaxed, enjoyed the mild weather, and further pursued his artistic talents. Even there, however, his curiosity and interest in parasites were still alive. He continued his research at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory with Dr. Robin Overstreet, a longtime colleague and friend. His studies included investigations on nematodes in vinegar eels.

Crites married Phyllis Naomi (Steelquist) Crites 21 July 1946. Surviving Crites are a daughter, Jill Ann (Steve) Cooks, and children, Heather and Max, and a son, Robert Hilton (Alison) Crites and children, Zach, Haly, Aja, Brielle, and Allaire. The O.R. Woodyard Funeral Home-Northwest Chapel, Columbus, OH, was in charge of arrangements. Crites was cremated, and a private interment was held. Memorial contributions may be made to the John L. Crites Research Fellowship at Stone Laboratory Fund, Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory, 1314 Kinnear Road, Area 100, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43212-1156 (Phone 614-292-8949; <>).
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Author:Burk, William R.; Stromberg, Paul C.
Publication:The Ohio Journal of Science
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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