Dr. Charles Yu-di Yang (1931 – 2018)
Charles Yu-di Yang, age 86, passed away on Monday, March 5, 2018 at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. In 1972, Dr. Yang accepted an offer from the Rockefeller Foundation to be the Senior Pathologist at the Asian Vegetable Research & Development Center (AVRDC). In 1980, he moved to Thailand to lead the AVRDC outreach program there. During his 17 years in Thailand, Charles developed the outreach program literally from the ground up. He got the funding to build the research center and training facilities; hired and managed the staff (who loved him so much that they called him “dieh” — “Dad”); oversaw the construction of the buildings; and developed, implemented and directed the training program for nearly 400 scholars from 18 countries around the world. Armed with knowledge gained from the training program, these scholars returned to their home countries to utilize the techniques and know-how to increase yields of vegetables and other crops to help feed their countries.
To obtain funding and secure international cooperation for these programs, Charles traveled to nearly 40 countries; he jokingly called himself an “international beggar”. Of course, he was no mere beggar—his unwavering integrity, humble leadership, and strength of character fostered the trust that engendered governments and financial organizations to fund these valuable agricultural training programs.
His steadfast dedication and prolific accomplishments were recognized by the many awards and honors he received, including an honorary Doctorate Degree of Science bestowed by the King of Thailand in 1997 and the highest honor of science award from the government of the People’s Republic of China.
He is survived by his wife, Pauline; son Paul (Paula); daughter Isabel (Dawn); grandsons Brendan and Bryant; older sister, older and younger brothers (in China); and many nephews, nieces, grand-nephews, and grand-nieces.
Memorial donations in the memory of Charles may be made to WETA | PBS Public Television and Classical Music for Greater Washington.