Richard "Dick" Hensz '54 July 14, 2022 5:33 PM updated: July 14, 2022 5:36 PM
Dr. Richard “Dick” Hensz
July 17, 1929 – May 15, 2022
Dr. Richard "Dick" Hensz, Professor Emeritus Texas A&M Citrus Research Center, developer of the Star Ruby and Rio Red Grapefruit varieties, declared the State Fruit of Texas in 1993, passed away at home at the age of 92. His contributions to citrus research, and the citrus industry are acknowledged worldwide.
Dick moved to Harlingen, Texas to start a family farm with his family from Evansville, Indiana shortly after his graduation from Reitz High School. He was in the Air Force Corp at Texas A&M University, and was a pilot in the United States Air Force after graduation. After his service, he attended University of Florida, Gainesville and earned his Masters, and PHD, in Horticulture.
He met the love of his life, Betty Jo King, in Whitehouse, Texas, and they were married on Christmas Day, 1954.
His work began at the Texas A&I University Citrus Center, in the early 1950's until his retirement in 1994 all while running the family citrus farm.
Dick and his wife Betty retired to the Texas Hill Country in the mid 1990's.
Above all, he was a loving son, a devoted husband for 67 years, a strong, loving father, grandfather, and a man who was widely respected and admired.
He was preceded in death by his wife Betty, and his daughter Betsy. He is survived by his brother Donald and family, his son Jim, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
The headline from the front page of The Wall Street Journal article announcing his retirement, Jan 11, 1994, perhaps says it best:
"Grapefruit is His Life, And for Dr. Hensz, a Very Sweet One"
In lieu of flowers, or donations, his son urges everyone to enjoy his gift to us, a delicious Texas Red Sweet Grapefruit.