J. Young Obituary
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In Memory of

Dr. J. Leon Young

March 11, 1947 - December 2, 2016
Obituary

Dr. J. Leon Young, also known as "Dr. Red Dirt" by his students or "Chief" by his family and friends, passed away after an unexpected illness on Friday, December 2, 2016 at the age of 69. He grew up on a farm in Medina County near Devine, Texas where his mother Faye Lilly Young, taught school and his father, Jerry Leon Young, was a farmer-rancher. They both precede him in death. He spent his youth on the farm, herding cattle, planting, irrigating, harvesting mostly forage crops, and was actively involved in FFA in high school. He graduated from Devine High School and entered Texas A&I University (now known as Texas A&M...
Dr. J. Leon Young, also known as "Dr. Red Dirt" by his students or "Chief" by his family and friends, passed away after an unexpected illness on Friday, December 2, 2016 at the age of 69. He grew up on a farm in Medina County near Devine, Texas where his mother Faye Lilly Young, taught school and his father, Jerry Leon Young, was a farmer-rancher. They both precede him in death. He spent his youth on the farm, herding cattle, planting, irrigating, harvesting mostly forage crops, and was actively involved in FFA in high school. He graduated from Devine High School and entered Texas A&I University (now known as Texas A&M Kingsville) in 1965 and graduated with a B.S. in Plant Science in 1970. In 1970 he moved to Ames, Iowa and began graduate work in Soil Fertility at Iowa State University where he earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1972 and 1976 respectively. More importantly, while living in Ames, Leon met and fell in love with Loraine Heddleston, who survives him. They married in 1973.


Leon and Loraine moved to Nacogdoches, Texas in 1975 and he began teaching Soil Science and Agronomy courses and running the Soil Testing Laboratory at Stephen F. Austin State University. Over the next 41 years, Dr. Young taught over 2,500 Agriculture students in his Soil Science course where his students learned "do not say 'dirt' in Dr. Young's class." Dr. Young also served as Director of the SFA Soil, Plant, and Water Analysis Laboratory and from 1984 to 1997, Dr. Young served as Chair of the Department of Agriculture. During this period new facilities were constructed at the Walter C. Todd Agricultural Research Center, the Agriculture Curriculum was revised, and he assisted in the development of what has become the SFA Gardens. As a professor, Dr. Young's greatest joy and accomplishment was the direction of thesis research and writing for over 30 Masters Degree students. He was awarded the prestigious Regents Professor title by Stephen F. Austin State University in 2008 and the Nacogdoches County Agriculture Educator of the Year in 2012. Outside the classroom, he served as a part of the East Texas Regional Water Planning Group and he was also a contract broiler grower for Tyson Foods.

Another passion for Leon was supporting agricultural projects in Africa. He visited Tanzania several times to work with subsistence farmers and partnered with the Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs' Farmer-to-Farmer program in 2013 to set up a Soils laboratory in Mozambique. The CNFA asked him to return the following year to Angola, where he trained farmers in techniques to improve soil fertility. Dr. Young was a long-time member of First Baptist Church of
Nacogdoches where he served as a deacon and he spent many years as a Sunday School teacher for two and three year olds.






Leon will be missed immensely by his surviving wife, Loraine Young; children, Molly Miller, Drew Young, Matthew Young, and April L. Burns; their spouses, Brandon Miller, Emily Young, April D. Young and Christopher Burns; his six grandchildren, Sam, Ella, Jack, Paloma, Gabriel, and Autumn.

A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 10:00 am. Dr. Allen Reed will be officiating. A scattering of cremains will take place privately at a later date.

Friends and family are invited to visitation on Monday, December 5, 2016 from 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm at Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors.

As a strong believer in Christ and supporter of International Missions, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to be made to First Baptist Church "African Missions", 411 North Street, Nacogdoches, Texas, 75965.

Online condolences may be offered at www.casonmonk_metcalf.com Arrangements are under the direction of Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors.

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"I didn't know of Dr. Young's passing until I saw it in the SFA Alumni magazine. I was one of Dr. Young's students in the late 1970s and he was on my thesis..." Leon Carey (Amarillo, TX)

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