Woody Hart
March 6, 1938 - February 2, 2024

Woody Hart

Woody Hart
Mar 6, 1938 - Feb 2, 2024

Woody Hart
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Dr. Elwood Roy Hart, Ph.D.

Elwood R. "Woody" Hart was born March 6, 1938, in Sioux City, Iowa to Roy Charles Hart and Ida Caroline (Cox) Hart. He was raised from an infant by his maternal grandparents, Albert Charles Cox and Anna Louisa (Wheeler) Cox, on the family farm and in the town of Rowley, both in Buchanan County, Iowa. Woody graduated from Rowley High School in 1955 and from Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa in 1959 with a B.A. in biology.

He was united in marriage with Carole Ruth Nielsen, Lamont, Iowa in 1960. He completed the requirements for a secondary teaching certificate at the University of Northern Iowa while working full time at John Deere Tractor Works in Waterloo, Iowa. After the birth of their child, Curtis Brian Hart in 1961, he taught physical sciences at West Delaware Community High School for 3 years in Manchester, Iowa and junior high physical sciences for 2 years at McKinley Junior
High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In 1964, Woody received a National Science Foundation scholarship to enroll in a master's program at Texas A&M University. In 1967, he received a National Defense Education Act fellowship to continue at TAMU in a doctoral program in entomology. While a doctoral student, he participated in a National Science Foundation supported Organization for Tropical Studies summer program in tropical ecology in Costa Rica and received an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant for 6 weeks study in Europe. In the final year of his doctoral studies, he was presented with the Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Southwestern Branch, Entomological Society of America. He received his Ph.D. in 1972, continuing at TAMU for 2 years as a postdoctoral fellow in forest entomology.

In 1974, he accepted a research/teaching position in the Entomology Department at Iowa State University. His teaching assignments, both undergraduate and graduate, were primarily in insect biology and forest pest management, the latter with Dr. Harold - "Sande" McNabb, Jr. In 1985, Woody participated in a research sabbatical with Dr. Donald Dahlsten in biological control of forest insects at the University of California at Berkeley, CA. Upon his return, he
accepted an additional appointment in the Forestry Department at ISU. After this appointment, he became involved in international forestry programs under the leadership of his close friend and colleague, Dr. Richard B. Hall. His research involvement was in two areas, urban forestry and short-rotation fast-growth forestry for energy production. Woody always admitted that any success that he had as a researcher was especially due to his ability to recruit, train, and place outstanding graduate students. He retired as professor emeritus in forestry and entomology in 2002.

Among the honors bestowed at ISU were: the Louis M. Thompson Award for Scholarly Achievement in Teaching; Outstanding Advisor Award, Iota Nu Chapter of Beta Beta Beta National Biology Honor Society; ESA Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, North Central Branch; Margaret Ellen White Award by the Graduate College for mentoring graduate students in a recognized research program.

Woody was especially blessed personally in his life. He was united in marriage with Nancy Louise Fues-Ryan in 1979, bringing three more sons into his life. In addition to his professional involvement, he enjoyed motorcycle touring and antique motorcycle restoration, and all facets of the shooting sports. He loved reading and community involvement. During the latter years of his life, he reaffirmed his Christian faith as a member of Ascension Lutheran Church in Ames, where he had an opportunity to teach adult classes in Christian Apologetics and the history of Christianity.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, his father and stepmother, lone York Hart, his mother and stepfather, Clarence D. Young, and a younger brother, Daniel Young, and granddaughter Emily Hart.

Woody is survived by his wife, Nancy; his four sons, Curt Hart, Chris Ryan, Mike Ryan, and Sean Ryan; grandchildren Angela Meyers, Brian Myers, Stephanie Efstratiou, Jamie Ryan, Ian Ryan, Catie Ryan, Zoe Ellis, and Ashley Cramer; seven great-grandchildren, and his brothers David Young and Charles Young. He and his wife were especially blessed for many years with a close relationship with his protege, former student, and friend, Nancy Duncan, and her family.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, February 8, 2024, from 4-6:00 p.m. at Grandon Funeral and Cremation Care, 414 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA with services held on Friday, February 9, 2024, at 10:30 at Ascension Lutheran Church, 2400 Bloomington Road, Ames, IA. Memorial donations may be made to the Samaritan Fund at Ascension Lutheran Church or to the Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University.

Online condolences may be directed to

David R. Russell on Feb 22, 2024

I met Woody in a series of workshops that two of us English professors (Rebecca Burnett was the other) were doing for Ag college faculty to help their students become better communicators–and thus learners. Woody really took to the idea, and we worked with him for several years doing curriculum development and education research. He was a genuinely joyful person, a delight to be around, as well as smart and creative as could be, in the most down-to-earth way. We learned so much from him about undergraduate teaching, about communication in science, and of course a little about forest pests! Good times those years.
David Russell

Chuck Burks on Feb 21, 2024

Condolences to the family from another former student. My recollection is that, circa 1980, Woody was one of the more charismatic members of the Department of Entomology. I met him when he was giving a lecture in a series of lectures for "undecideds" in the College of Agriculture. Before the lecture he passed out chocolate bars with the request to not open them quite yet. Then he started his lecture by cited statistics on insect infestation in raw cocao. His was among the more informative and easily the most engaging of that series of lectures. It sounds trite to call it a life-changing experience, but here I am, decades later, still making my living as an entomologist.

Ralph Rosenberg on Feb 15, 2024

Nancy and family, I am so sorry to learn of your loss Mike Dubiel shared that Woody has passed away and I wanted to express my condolences. Woody was always kind, gentle, can caring. The tributes are a blessing.

Beth Breton on Feb 11, 2024

Woody was my advisor while I was an undergraduate in the Entomology Department at ISU. He was thoughtful, kind, caring, honest, comedic and A LOT of fun. He had a profound impact on me my senior year of undergrad when he told me, " You're only 22, you absolutely don't have to have your life all figured out."

Deanna Lassegard on Feb 10, 2024

Woody and Nancy were next door neighbors to my grandparents when I was younger. Both were so kind and Woody even gave me a ride on his motorcycle once. My sincerest condolences to Nancy and their family.

Tom Polito on Feb 8, 2024

I first met Woody when I started working at Iowa State in 1978. He was a researcher, graduate student mentor, undergraduate adviser and classroom instructor. My initial interactions with him had to do with those latter two undergraduate assignment. I quickly realized that Woody was among the best teachers and advisers at the University. However, I also learned that he was not your stereotypical college professor. In addition to his insects and students, Woody loved fast cars and faster motorcycles. As recently as a couple months ago my wife Marilyn and I would have coffee with Woody, Nancy and several others on Saturday mornings. It was fun to watch the heads turn when a pristine, bright cherry red, 500 plus horsepower Mustang would rumble into the handicap parking space and a white haired, slightly stooped gentleman with a cane would emerge. Mustangs and BMW motorcycles were his favorite. But they were not his only favorites. Woody was a collector as well and among his favorite collectibles were vintage Remington .22 rimfire rifles. A favorite pastime was to take one of those rifles topped with a period correct Weaver scope and slip through the timber hunting squirrels. Or he enjoyed deer hunting with former students. While Woody Hart was a respected scientist who was at ease interacting with scientists from around the globe, I observed him to be very much at home in a Southern Iowa deer camp joking and playing card with the locals. It seems he never forgot his rural Iowa roots.

Rest in peace Woody. A lot of us will miss you but we are all better for having you as our friend.

Jo Hebert (previously Holland) on Feb 8, 2024

Sadden to hear of the loss of Dr. Hart. Somehow I had the pleasure of being around Dr. Hart when I worked for a brief period of time in the Entomology Department at ISU. He changed my life by introducing me to the book: Codependent No More (subtitle: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Taking Care of Yourself). I remember Woody was fun to be around and I'll forever be grateful for the introduction to that book by him.
I did not remember he was involved with motorcycles. We had not purchased the 1st Harley in our family when I was in Entomology. A few years later, my husband was one of the ones killed in that fateful accident on Hwy 30 in June of 2002. Since then I've moved to Oregon, was on my own for 14 years; have remarried (2018) a wonderful man and we live in Todos Santos, Mexico. My husband is 78 and I am 75. I worked at ISU for 25 years). All the while I am thankful Woody came into my life, making such a positive impact - besides being fun & wonderful personality.
PEACE and Blessings to the Family.

Rich Freed on Feb 8, 2024

For a decade or so after we moved to Stone Brooke, Julie and I lived across the street from Woody and Nancy, whose driveway was like a window into their world, often filled with cars on weekend evenings as friends and family visited. Woody was exceedingly friendly and gracious, and people quite obviously desired his presence.

During the day on nearly every weekend when the weather was good, the driveway held only Woody and Nancy’s cars, which were cleaned inside and out for some hours until they glistened in the summer sun. As neighbors walked by, going to or returning from the lake, they would stop and chat. In some ways, the driveway was the center of the neighborhood. Woody didn’t need the attention, but he paid such attention to you that you wanted to be in his company. He was kind and generous, good-hearted and affectionate, agreeable and, well, neighborly.

Every morning I took Daisy for a walk in the park, where she didn’t want to stay for very long because the highlight of her day was the trip back home. Nancy would be watching for our return through her kitchen window, and Daisy would see them both on their stoop, dog treats in hand. Burly Woody would coo with a lovely kindness and affection.

On those occasions when Woody and Nancy did not come out to greet Daisy, she would pull me toward their driveway rather than my own or sit in the middle of the street looking at their front door. Daisy knew where the treats were, and they were Woody and Nancy.

Dick Wilson on Feb 6, 2024

I have known Woody for 60 years. We both got our Master's degree the same time at Texas A&M University. Then our paths crossed again at Iowa State University. He was on the entomology faculty and I was at the USDA Plant Introduction Station. As a cooperative venture between the University and the USDA, I was also a member of the entomology deparment. So our paths crossed many times du;ring my 20 years at the Plant Introduction Station. We talked about our days at Texas A&M often. He was a true long time friend and will be greatly missed.
Dick Wilson

Barbara Leith on Feb 6, 2024

Nancy, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Woody was always so kind. I won't be able to attend the service but know I will be there in spirit.

Sheila Halasz on Feb 5, 2024

I had the pleasure of sitting near Woody at Nancy’s last class reunion. My mother was in Nancy’s class of 1952 and needed an escort. His stories mixed with his caring nature made the table a better place to be. May his Christian faith help those who love him. If I was touched after meeting him only once, I can only imagine his impact in his life.

John and Claudia Armstrong on Feb 3, 2024

John and I will miss Woody dearly. We always enjoyed our conversations on the elevator as we headed to the garage. Woody was such a good person and we always enjoyed running into him.
Sorry we won’t be back for the service. We will be thinking of you Nancy and the boys🙏🏻💕

Carl Wesley Mize on Feb 3, 2024

I met Woody about 40 years ago. I was a new professor in Forestry and met him in a meeting and thought he was a bit of a rebel and was attracted to that.
Over the years, we developed a good friendship. My wife and I enjoyed a number of dinners with him and Nancy. I admired Woody's professionalism and dedication to students. I considered him to be an exceptionally good professor, a very decent human being, and a good friend.
A funny story about him is that once my wife and I invited him and Nancy for dinner. Conversation drifted to wine, which we all liked, but they were more knowledgeable and sophisticated in their wine drinking. They commented how it was shocking how some people liked "wine in a box." With a smile, I excused myself, went to the kitchen, and returned with a white towel over my arm and a box of “wine in a box” sitting on the towel. We all laughed, and they apologized for their comment. My wife and I smiled and gave everyone a big hug.
Woody will be missed by many people, as a friend, colleague, and a teacher.



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Grandon Funeral & Cremation Care
414 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA, United States 50010
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM


Ascension Lutheran Church
2400 Bloomington Road
Ames , IA, United States 50010
10:30 AM

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