Dr. A. Forrest Troyer, 85

Dr. A. Forrest Troyer, one of the pioneers of modern corn breeding, died peacefully Sunday, May 10, 2015. He was 85 and lived in DeKalb, Ill.

He lived life with purpose; his family and pursuit of his passion for corn breeding.  From growing up in a corn breeding family, to operating a certified seed farm that paid his university tuitions and led to a career yielding remarkable results. Forrest was destined to breed corn and made a difference doing so.

If a life can be measured by tangible results, then these results speak loudly: during his professional career, Forrest developed, or co-developed 40 commercial corn hybrids that sold more than 60 million bags of seed in North America. That was enough corn to plant all North American production for two years, at a combined current value of approximately $8.4 trillion.

His most well-known corn hybrids from 1974 through 1983 were Pioneer hybrid 3732 and 3780.  The unit sales of those two products exceeded 45 million bags.

Forrest’s family was extremely important to him and provided inspiration and loving relationships during life’s journey.  Forrest was born on a farm near La Fontaine on May 30, 1929.  The youngest of four children, his intellect and drive were challenged from an early age, by exceptionally bright and diligent parents and siblings.  The keen intellect and drive would remain to the end.  The influence of his parents – Alvah and Lottie and his siblings – Charles Robert, Marguerite and Lucille clearly molded the man who would accomplish so much.

In 1950, Forrest married Joyce Wigner of Fairmount. Enduring commitment and support to one another marked their marriage of more than 60 years.  They raised their family in a home filled with love, happiness and laughter due to their positive outlook on life and great sense of humor.

Forrest and Joyce spent their first years apart, as the Korean War took Forrest abroad.  In 1951 and 1952, Forrest served with distinction – twice declining battlefield promotions – an honor that would keep him away from Joyce longer than necessary. In October 2014, Forrest thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Greater Lafayette Honor Flight.

Forrest and Joyce forged their family, and lives together, at stops along Forrest’s educational journey: baccalaureate degree at Purdue University; Masters degree at the University of Illinois; and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Along the way, their family grew to include three daughters and a son, Anne, Barb, Cathy, and Danny.

Locations and titles read like battle ribbons on the chest of a war hero.  Mankato, Minnesota – Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company - Research Station Manager, Research Coordinator for Northern and Eastern North America and France.  St. Louis, Missouri – Pfizer Genetics, Inc. – Research Director, Vice President.  DeKalb, Illinois – DeKalb-Pfizer Genetics, Inc. – Vice President, Director – Research and Development.  Forrest retired from his final corporate position in 1993.

Post-retirement activities kept Forrest as busy as his former corporate assignments.  Since 1993, he consulted with Cargill Hybrid Seeds, was appointed Adjunct Professor, Crop Sciences, University of Illinois and continued hands-on corn breeding with Dairyland Seed Co.  The post–retirement accomplishments were made possible by the administrative support of Julie Rautio.  Julie’s dedication, her ability to always go above and beyond and her extraordinary kindness are and have been very much appreciated by Forrest and the entire family.

Forrest persevered through the losses of his parents, Lottie and Alvah, his wife, Joyce and son, Danny and his siblings, Charles Robert and Lucille.  He is survived by sister Marguerite Guenin, daughters Anne (Chuck) Sherwood, Barb (Steve) Witz and Cathy Troyer.  He has two sons-in-law, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 2 pm Friday, May 15, at McDonald Funeral Home, LaFontaine Chapel at 104 S Main St., LaFontaine,  with Pastor Brad Wright officiating. Burial will follow at the LaFontaine IOOF Cemetery in LaFontaine.

Friends and family can visit from 1-2 pm on Friday at the funeral home.  Memorials are appreciated and can be made to Opportunity House, 202 Locust St., Sycamore, IL.  60178.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at


Posted on 2015 May 14