Robert McCarty, director of the Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry, died unexpectedly Oct. 26 of an apparent heart attack.

McCarty, 58, a lifelong public servant and pioneer in the field of regulatory entomology, had been employed with the state regulatory and service division of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce since 1967.

"I have never worked with a public servant who was more committed to helping Mississippi, in every respect, than Robert McCarty," says Chip Morgan, director of Delta Council in Stoneville, Miss.

"Robert was an 80- to 100-hours-per-week guy, and there just aren't many people left in public service with that level of commitment," Morgan says. "He's going to be sorely missed."

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell Jr., agrees, saying, "Mississippi has lost a fine man in Robert McCarty. Robert was committed in every way to doing an exemplary job for everyone associated with agriculture. Our hearts reach out to his wife Frances, their children, Jack and Robin, as well as his entire family."

Born in Quitman County, Miss., in 1942, McCarty received both his bachelor of science degree and his master's degree in entomology from Mississippi State University. In 1963, he began his agricultural career as a pest management consultant. One year later, he became assistant county Extension agent for Sharkey and Issaquena counties.

McCarty began his long tenure with the State Plant Board as a district entomologist in 1967. After several job promotions with the renamed Bureau of Plant Industry, he was given the job of deputy director in 1985 and director in 1993.

Active in numerous professional organizations, McCarty was recognized for his distinguished service to agriculture by the Mississippi Entomological Association, the Honor Society of Agriculture, the Mississippi Agricultural Chemicals Council, the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association, the Catfish Farmers of America, the Catfish Farmers of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association.

In addition, he served as president of the Association of Southern Feed Fertilizer and Pesticide Control Officials; director of the Weed Science Society; president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials; and chairman of the National Advisory Committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Pesticide Issues.

An avid photographer and sportsman, McCarty is survived by his wife Frances, his children Jack and Robin, his brothers Jack and Will, and his sister Jane.