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Remembering Dennis Randall Ring: August 6, 1952 to May 4, 2020

Dr. Dennis Randall Ring, a legendary pecan entomologist, passed on May 4, 2020. This remembrance was written and shared by the Ring family.

Photo of Dr. Dennis Ring from the 2001 LSU AgCenter Class I Internal Leadership Program

Dr. Dennis Ring

Dennis Randall Ring was born August 6, 1952, in Texarkana, Arkansas, to Billy J. and Billie M. Ring. Dennis is survived by his wife Sherry, daughter Megan DeWees and her husband Dalton, sons, Randall Ring and Paul Ring; and by his brother David Ring and wife Karen, and nephews, Tim and Matthew, and five grandnieces and grandnephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Billy J. Ring and Billie M. Ring, brother, Carey Ring, and niece, Patsy Ring.

Dennis grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, where he spent many hours playing with his younger brothers, David and Carey, in the city park across from their home. This is where Dennis first became interested in insects. One has to wonder if it came from the fun he had batting at bumblebees with a broomstick. Dennis attended a small Baptist Church where his dad, a railroad engineer, was a pastor on Sundays. Dennis told of anxiously waiting for the sermon to end so they could race home to watch the Dallas Cowboys—he was a life-long fan.

Dennis graduated from Grand Prairie High School, Grand Prairie, Texas, in 1970. He attended Grand Canyon College and the University of Texas at Arlington before transferring to Baylor University. He worked his way through school as a grocery store clerk in high school and at a lumber mill during summer break from college. He graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1974.

By then, Dennis knew that he liked biology but was not fond of anatomy. He was accepted into graduate school by the Entomology Department at Texas A&M University. The pecan weevil was causing problems in Central Texas pecan orchards, and Dennis received a phone call from Dr. Marvin Harris, who needed a student to do experiments on pecan weevil in an orchard setting. Dennis spent the fall of 1974 living in the small community of Hamilton, Texas.

Dennis began graduate school at Texas A&M University in the spring of 1975, a semester behind his classmates, and graduated with a Master’s of Science in 1978. He stayed on and completed his Ph.D. in 1981 with work on the first computer model of the behavior of the pecan nut casebearer, which became the basis for current models.

Dennis held several post-doctoral positions. He worked in the screwworm lab in Mission, Texas, and Chiapas, Mexico. Then he worked at the USDA pecan research station in Byron, Georgia, the sugarcane entomology lab in the Texas A&M Research station at Weslaco, Texas, and the cotton insects research lab at the Texas A&M Research Station in Corpus Christ, Texas.

In 1995, he found his true calling when he was hired by the Ag Center at Louisiana State University to do Extension entomology. Dennis loved his job at LSU. He spent as many hours as he could to make as many commitments as possible. Dennis spent his evening hours answering emails on his computer and talking on the phone to colleagues and clients. He had many stories to tell about his interactions with people and his efforts to educate people on entomology.

During the years, he found time to be a family man, and his three kids loved him and all the insect adventures and outdoor experiences he brought their way. He went to learn to do his taxes at Jackson Hewitt and ended up working for them during tax season—just another example of how his life was dedicated to the service of others. Dennis was interested in every plant you can name. He brought home a few that were too invasive to keep, and mostly he handed them over to his wife Sherry to keep up with. He was looking forward to retiring on the family farm in Bastrop, Texas, and continuing his interest in plants and insects.