Retired University of Idaho Bean Breeder ReceivesGovernor’s Award for Excellence in Technical Innovation
Written by Marlene Fritz
BOISE—Leslie L. “Bill” Dean, a retired University of Idaho bean breeder, received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Technical Innovation on Feb. 24 at the 2009 Larry Branen Idaho Ag Summit.
Dean’s nomination—in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in the development, production and marketing of dry and garden beans—was initiated by the Idaho Bean Commission. Kathy Stewart-Williams, University of Idaho coordinator of the Idaho Foundation Seed Program in Kimberly, said the Idaho bean industry has “benefited immeasurably from Bill’s gifts” and from his steadfast commitment to the protection of standards and quality in Idaho seed beans.
A native of Twin Falls, Dean earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Idaho during the 1940s and his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1951. He released his first beans for the University of Idaho’s Bean Improvement Program before completing his master’s degree and joined the University of Idaho faculty as a Twin Falls-based assistant plant pathologist for bean diseases in 1950.
By the time he retired from the University in Idaho in 1975, Dean had released 18 dry edible and snap beans.According to Stewart-Williams, several of Dean’s milestone beans, including UI 111 and UI 114, remain cornerstones of the North American pinto bean industry. UI 111, to which all modern pinto beans grown in North America trace their roots, was among the first cultivars developed by hybridization in its market class worldwide.
While at the University of Idaho, Dean also released the first commercially acceptable snap bean variety with high resistance to the curly top virus.After his university retirement, Dean continued to breed dry edible beans for the enterprise he founded, Idaho Seed Bean Co. Among his popular private beans are the pintos Fiesta, Apache and Pinata; the pinks ISB-462 and ISB 473, and the navy beans Admiral, Aspen and Frigate.
Dean was a founding member of the International Bean Improvement Cooperative and led the successful campaign for zero tolerance of bacterial blight of beans in Idaho. He is the recipient of meritorious service awards from the International Bean Improvement Cooperative, Alberta Bean Growers Association, Western Canada Pulse Growers Association, Idaho Crop Improvement Association and University of Idaho.