BEAUMONT, TEXAS, US — Dr. Charles Bollich, a distinguished rice breeder who developed 23 rice varieties during a 32-year career with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was inducted into the USDA Agricultural Research Service Science Hall of Fame, died on June 16 at the age of 95.
Bollich grew up on a rice farm in Mowata, Louisiana, US. Following his US Navy service in the Pacific Theater during World War II, he returned to Louisiana and earned his undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University and worked at the Rice Research Station in Crowley, Louisiana, US. He eventually earned a PhD and spent his professional career with the USDA in Beaumont, Texas, US.
Among the 23 varieties of rice that he developed was Lemont, which for several years was grown on more than 1 million acres in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Bollich was inducted into the USDA Agricultural Research Service Science Hall of Fame in 1994 and the LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction in 1995.
“Dr. Bollich was a superstar among US rice breeders,” said Dr. Steve Linscombe of USA Rice, a fellow rice breeder and director of The Rice Foundation. “He released numerous important varieties such as Labelle, Bellemont and Rexmont. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the release of Lemont in the early 1980s, the first widely grown Southern long grain with excellent yield, quality, and lodging resistance that quickly became the predominate variety in the south. He was my mentor and had a tremendous reputation in the industry both domestically and internationally.”
After his retirement from the USDA, Bollich volunteered with Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA), once making a trip to Ukraine to work with a rice breeder who was trying to develop new varieties for the Black Sea country. He also served as a consultant for the International Atomic Energy Agency, a branch of the United Nations concerned with the peaceful application of this resource.
A gathering of Bollich’s family and friends is scheduled for June 24, at Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont, Texas, US, from 5 to 8 p.m., with a rosary recited at 6 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m., June 25 at St. Anne Catholic Church, 2715 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas. His interment will be at 3 p.m. June 25 at St. Lawrence Cemetery, 29031 Crowley Eunice Highway, Crowley, Louisiana, US.