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Kamal El-Zik '67 March 13, 2017 1:37 PM updated: March 13, 2017 1:40 PM

(Published in) the (Bryan-College Station) Eagle (on) March 12, 2017

El-Zik, Kamal

June 10, 1932 - February 13, 2017

Dr. Kamal El-Zik passed away peacefully on February 13, 2017 in California, after a long illness. Following Kamal's passing his brother in-law, Christopher Economides, observed, "An honest, good man, modest and humble lies at rest. The friend of man, the friend of truth, the friend of age, and the guide of youth, lives in bliss in the other world."

Kamal was born in Cairo, Egypt on June 10, 1932 and was raised in Alexandria, where he graduated from High School. Subsequently he earned both a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters degree in Agronomy at Alexandria University. Along the way in 1950, he met the love of his life Daphne, eventually sharing more than sixty-five wonderful years together.

In 1962, Kamal and Daphne came to the United States, first to Louisiana State University and then to Texas A&M University where Kamal pursued a doctorate in Plant Pathology and Genetics, earning the PhD degree in 1967.

After five years in the industry working for a commercial seed company, Kamal returned to academia for five years at the University of California at Davis. In 1980, he was appointed to a position as Professor in the College of Agriculture at Texas A&M University, where he remained until his retirement as Emeritus Professor in 2001.

During his academic career with more than two decades of outstanding service at TAMU, Dr El-Zik built a state-of-the art research and teaching program in cotton pathology and genetics. Kamal authored and co-authored 244 research papers published in leading international journals. In addition to being coauthor of a major textbook, he also contributed 16 chapters to other books.

As "the guide of youth" Kamal loved teaching and his students loved him. As one measure of his international reputation and wide recognition he hosted, trained and mentored 42 international students from 15 different countries. During his retirement his former students never forgot the debt they owed Kamal, and many maintained frequent communication for years after their time at TAMU.

The practical impact of his work was extremely significant worldwide. Kamal was responsible for the development of 67 new elite cotton varieties that were superior to what was available before. Characteristically modest by nature, Kamal did not name these different cotton varieties for himself, but chose ancient names such as "Sphinx" and "Luxor" derived from ancient Egypt. This pioneering highly innovative work earned him invitations to visit and share his unique perspectives with others across the world, including for example, visits to Egypt, Australia, Brazil, China, and Spain.

Kamal's discoveries also brought many prestigious awards, for example the Miles Cotton Recognition Award in 1993, the Cotton Genetics Award also in 1993 and the Texas Seed Association Distinguished Service Award in 2001.

At one point in the late 1970's Kamal was invited to return to Egypt to provide leadership as Minister of Agriculture – a high honor indeed but one which he declined. Those who knew Kamal well understood that his decision had much to do with his love for his adopted country, the United States, for Texas, and especially for his teaching and research at Texas A&M University.

He is survived by Daphne, his loving spouse; and three brothers, Youssef, Tawfik and David.

Dr Kamal El-Zik's life and service at Texas A&M were a classic illustration of the role a scholar teacher, constantly searching for new knowledge that both benefits society, and enriches student's educational experience.


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