Cover photo for Dr. Donald Leroy Wyse's Obituary
Dr. Donald Wyse

Dr. Donald Leroy Wyse

d. July 2, 2024

Shoreview, Minnesota

Donald Leroy Wyse, 77, of Shoreview, MN died peacefully on Tuesday, July 2, 2024 with his loving wife and family at his side. Don loved his family and was a visionary for agriculture, education, and community development. 

Don was born in Wauseon, Ohio, on June 6, 1947, the son of Earl and Ruth (Garner) Wyse. He grew up on the family farm and excelled in high school sports. Don credited his brother Roger Wyse for getting him to college. He earned a Bachelor of Science from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Don married Beverly Ann Clark on June 7, 1969. Don adored “Bevy Ann”, from their first encounter at the county fair through their 55 years of marriage, their love grew deeper with each passing year. They were two kids with free spirits, set out to change the world, against all odds. Don also had a close relationship with each of his children and grandchildren, always excited to see them, taking an active interest in what they were doing, and guiding them on their journey.

 Don had many special gifts, but his greatest gift and mission was supporting and caring for people. He engaged all people he encountered, accepting them as they were, without judgment, listening to their story, then partnering with them to identify and begin a preferred path toward their future. Don used this gift in all aspects of his life: education, scientific research, organizing, community building, fighting social injustice, and interpersonal relationships. Don recently celebrated 50 years of teaching and research at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. During his tenure he instructed thousands of undergraduate students, advised over 100 graduate students, published over 200 scientific journal articles, authored two book chapters, held 14 research patents, and 6 plant variety patents. During the latest phase of his career, Don dedicated himself to the creation of a broader vision and framework of agriculture that serves rural and urban communities with a goal of economic growth and resource conservation. He was instrumental in bringing together individuals across the entire agriculture infrastructure to work on the most challenging issues affecting agriculture, the environment, and society. He successfully formed several formal partnerships and collaborations among farmers, universities, governments, foundations, major food companies, conservation groups, and rural and urban community leaders. Don was the visionary and co-founder of the Forever Green Initiative, which serves as a platform and model for developing alternative crops and cropping systems that provide longer-living cover on the landscape with additional economic and environmental benefits to rural and urban communities. Several of these crops have achieved commercial success and the Forever Green Initiative has gained global recognition and support. Despite Don’s critical role in forming and developing these ideas and collaborations, he never wanted personal recognition; it was always about the people involved, doing the hard work to achieve success.

 Beyond his professional achievements, Don's greatest joy was his family. He was a loving husband to Bev, a devoted father to his children Dawn (Todd) Wyse-Pester and Ryan (Mary) Wyse, and a doting grandfather to Hayden Pester (Leah Marek), Lara Pester (Jake Chilson), Cameron Wyse (Megan Biggs), and Connor Wyse. To his family he was “Papa”. Typically acting goofy to make them laugh, down on the floor with grandkids, playing in sandboxes and doll houses, conducting fun science experiments, and cheering and beaming with pride as each of them accomplished their life milestones. But he also challenged each family member to reach their full potential and instilled the value of helping other people along their journey. Don and Bev also enjoyed vacationing by themselves and with family, traveling across the U.S. on new adventures and many trips to the national parks of the west including Rocky Mountain (Estes Park), Yellowstone, and Grand Teton to relax and renew their spirit. Through the years, on every trip Don would continually educate his family on various plants in the environment, what made them unique to establish and persist, and the role they played in the surrounding ecosystem. Standing in front, his arm stretched across the horizon, explaining the physical world in Don’s unique way of blending science, common sense, and humor saying “Well something sure the hell happened here”. His passion and excitement were infectious, and he thoroughly enjoyed each moment he had with family.

Don's absence leaves a profound void in the hearts of those who knew him, but his spirit and influence endure as a light of inspiration and hope for a brighter future. Don will be remembered for his passion, intellect, sense of humor, and unwavering commitment to creating a better world through agriculture. His legacy lives on through the countless lives he touched and the principles he instilled. His favorite song was “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers, which captured his love for Bev, their adventure through life together, and his pursuit in the death of current ideas and challenging the status quo. “Me and Cinderella, we put it all together, we can drive it home with one headlight”. 

Don will be lovingly remembered by his wife Bev; their two children: Dawn (Todd) Wyse-Pester of Shoreview, MN, Ryan (Mary) Wyse of Elk River, MN; four grandchildren: Hayden and Lara Pester, Cameron and Connor Wyse; his brother Roger Wyse (Jaleh Daie) of Austin, TX; his sister Marie (Paul) Sprankle of Columbus, OH; his nephews Scott, Greg and Doug Sprankle; and many extended family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl and Ruth Wyse.

A memorial service for Don will be held at 2:00pm Friday, July 26 at The McNamara Alumni Center (click link for directions and parking), with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to a scholarship fund in Don's name.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Donald Leroy Wyse, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Memorial Service

Friday, July 26, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

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Friday, July 26, 2024

3:00 - 5:00 pm (Central time)

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