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Donald Wanjura '61 May 2, 2023 12:39 PM updated: May 2, 2023 12:47 PM

Donald Frank Wanjura 

July 30, 1938 - February 22, 2023 

Donald Frank Wanjura, 84, of Lubbock, passed away on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. He was born on July 30, 1938, to the late Victor Hugo Wanjura, Sr., and Agnes Ripper Wanjura, in Weimar, Colorado County, Texas.

As a child, Don attended St. Michael Catholic School and graduated from Weimar High School in 1957. He was a proud graduate of Texas A&M University (B.S. Agricultural Engineering), Clemson University (M.S. Agricultural Engineering), and The University of Arizona (Ph.D. Agronomy).

Don retired in 2008 after 44 years with the USDA Agricultural Research Service where he had a long and distinguished career. He was recognized locally and internationally as an authority in the field of Agricultural Engineering. Don’s early career focused on developing machinery and implements for modern cotton production in the United States. He helped develop modern planters, tillage tools, and cotton harvesters that are still used today. His career changed focus from mechanization to physiological crop modeling where he developed models for cotton development based on heat unit accumulation. He conducted research that identified minimum safe soil temperature for planting cotton while other work helped to improve cotton yields through optimum spacing. His later career was focused on enhanced crop modeling that led to the development and commercialization of a new irrigation scheduling system based on plant stress-time accumulation. The BIOTIC model greatly improved water use efficiency for drip irrigated crops and is in use in many countries throughout the world. Dr. Wanjura authored over 150 scientific papers, books, and conference papers over his career. He always cherished working with his many friends and collaborators on countless projects over the years. His patient mentoring helped to foster the successful careers of many other scientists and engineers.

Christ-like service was a pivotal aspect of Don’s life. In service to his nation, he served 23 years in the US Navy Reserves, retiring as a Commander. He also poured into the Lubbock community; Don was an Eagle Scout, as are his three sons and 2 of his grandsons. As a Scoutmaster for over 20 years, he led numerous young men to earn the rank of Eagle. He was a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and held leadership positions in the Knights of Columbus Council 3008, the Serra Club of Lubbock, and the Catholic Foundation of the South Plains.

Don enjoyed traveling. He made 4 pilgrimages to the Holy Land and sites in eastern Europe. He presented at the World Irrigation Meeting in Spain and the World Cotton Conference in Athens, Greece. He enjoyed 2 trips to Alaska with friends and family.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Sue; three sons, Victor Hugo “Vic” Wanjura III of Lubbock, Eric Donald Wanjura (Christine) of Lubbock and John David Wanjura (Karen) of Nazareth; one sister Gladys LeBleu of Hurricane, West Virginia; twelve grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his parents; one daughter, Amy Carroll Wanjura in 2017; and two brothers, David Wanjura and Victor Hugo “Buck” Wanjura, Jr.

Visitation for Dr. Wanjura will be held from 4 PM to 6 PM on Sunday, February 26, 2023, in the Combest Family Memorial Chapel with the Rosary being prayed at 5 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Christ the King Cathedral, 4011 54th Street, Lubbock at 10:00 AM on Monday, February 27, 2023. Bishop Robert M. Coerver will be the Celebrant, and Concelebrants will be Monsignor Ben Kasteel and Father Jose Kochubarambil. Final rites and interment will follow at Resthaven Memorial Park under the personal care and direction of Combest Family Funeral Homes.

Pallbearers will be grandsons Ben Wanjura, Jacob Swim, Victor Hugo “Hugh” Wanjura IV, Alex Martinez, Jack Wanjura, and nephew Greg Wanjura. Honorary pallbearers will be longtime friend Royce Heinrich and his youngest grandson Thomas Wanjura.

The family thanks Hospice of Lubbock and Forever Faithful Home Care for their loving care for Don. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to Hospice of Lubbock or Christ the King Diocesan School Foundation.


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