Harlan G. Thorvilson
Harlan Gene Thorvilson, 75, passed away Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, at the Houston Hospice, Houston, Texas. Funeral services for Harlan will be held at Christ the King Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas, at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29, with Pastor Karin Liebster officiating. In lieu of flowers, a memorial endowment has been established in Harlan’s name at Texas Tech University. The endowment will provide an annual scholarship to a TTU Department of Plant and Soil Science student. To contribute to the memorial fund, please send your donation to TTU CASNER (College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources) Foundation for Scholarship Funding, P.O. Box 42123, Lubbock, Texas 79409. Please note Dr. Thorvilson’s name on your donation. Donations can also be made online at http://donate.give2tech.com/?fid=IA000657.
Harlan was born Feb. 20, 1945, in Mason City. He grew up on his family farm south of Lake Mills, with his mother and father, Gladys and Horace, and his sister, Ellen.
During his childhood, Harlan loved helping his dad and uncles with farming chores, raising corn and soybeans and managing livestock.
Harlan graduated from Lake Mills High School in 1963. He attended Luther College, Decorah, where he earned a B.A. in Biology in 1967. In 1969, he earned a M.S. from Iowa State University in Zoology-Entomology. He was employed as an Associate Professor in Biology at Waldorf College, Forest City, from 1969-1980. From 1980-83, he was a Predoctoral Associate at Iowa State University, where he finished his PhD in Entomology in December 1983.
Dr. Harlan Thorvilson then moved to Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, where he was a professor from 1984 until his retirement in 2011.
He was a member of numerous professional and honorary societies and was awarded the Agriculture Teaching National Award of Merit and the TTU President’s Excellence in Teaching for several years. His principal research interests were the biology and ecology of the red imported fire ant, entomopathogenic fungi as agents of insect biological control and protection of electrical equipment from fire ant damage.
Harlan married Claudia Juncker on June 27, 1976. Son, Erik Paul, was born in 1979; Michael Zane in 1982; and Kristin Ann in 1987. As a dedicated father, he supported his children in basketball, baseball, volleyball, Odyssey of the Mind, parent booster clubs, PTA and church youth groups. He never missed a game when his children were participating.
He served on the church council and as congregational president of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Lubbock, Texas. He enjoyed travel, hiking, playing sports, reading and spending time with family and friends.
Dr. Harlan Thorvilson will always be remembered as a man with a kind and gentle spirit who was a great brother, friend, professional, husband, father and grandfather.
He is survived by his wife, Claudia; son, Erik and daughter-in-law, Kathryn; son, Michael and daughter-in-law, Shanna; daughter, Kristin and son-in-law, Austin; sister, Ellen; and five grandchildren: Annabel, Meredith, Grace, Claire and Erik Jr.
He is preceded in death by his parents, aunts and uncles.