ARIZONA CITY — Albert E. Carleton, 81, a longtime plant scientist, died on Nov. 3, 2021.

Mr. Carleton was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, on Feb. 11, 1940, and was a son of Joe and Winnie Rae Carleton. His formative years in New Mexico sparked his love of agriculture. He graduated from Carlsbad High School in 1958 and initially attended University of Texas at El Paso on a football scholarship. He transferred to New Mexico State University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy in 1962. He completed his advanced education in 1965 at Oregon State University, receiving a joint master’s degree and PhD in crop science in only three years.

He joined the Montana State University faculty in 1966 as an associate professor in the Plant and Soil Science Department with an emphasis in forage breeding. He greatly enjoyed teaching and took pride in his graduate students, watching their careers flourish. In 1972 he became a partner at Montana Seeds in Conrad, Montana. He, with his longtime friend and business partner Bill Corpstein, founded Western Plant Breeders in 1974. They sold the company in 1984. They founded Arizona Plant Breeders in 1989.

During his long career in academia and business, he was a pioneer in the development of intellectual property related to grain and forage plant varieties. From 1965 through 2017, he developed and patented over 30 varieties of small grains and forages. He was particularly proud of Kronos durum, Mucho barley and Remont sainfoin. He served as executive director of the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council. He was known for not only his contributions to the industry but for being a teacher and mentor as well. When not in his beloved fields working on his plant breeding, he loved being with his family or traveling with his beloved wife. 

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Betty; seven adult children, Joe Carleton, Richard Carleton, Mark Orcutt, Greg Orcutt, Kathi Kauk, Ward Orcutt and Richard Orcutt; a brother, Owen Carleton; 15 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.

The family is planning a celebration of life in Conrad in the summer of 2022. Condolences may be sent to: P.O. Box 825, Arizona City, AZ 85123.


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