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Olan Dean Forker

b. August 18, 1928

Olan Dean Forker

The family of Olan Dean Forker is saddened to announce his death on May 9, 2018. We lost one of the world’s most kind and gentle souls. Olan, son of Fred and Mary (Butler) Forker, was born on August 18, 1928 and raised on a farm near Kendallville, Indiana. He attended Rome City High School and Purdue University, receiving his BS in Dairy Production in 1950. That fall he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served one year in S. Korea. Olan attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Ft. Bliss, Texas and continued in the Army Reserves for 24 years, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel.

After military duty Olan became a commercial farm manager with Halderman Farm Management Service of Wabash, Indiana managing up to 33 farms in Southern Michigan and Northern Indiana from 1954 to 1958. Interested in continuing his education, Olan earned his MS degree in Agricultural Economics in 1958 from Michigan State University and his PhD in Agricultural Economics in 1962 from the University of California, Berkeley.

From 1961 to 1965 at UC Berkeley Olan was an Economist in the Agricultural Extension Service and an Associate on the Giannini Foundation.

In 1965 the family moved to Ithaca, NY where Olan became an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Agricultural Economics Department at Cornell University. Olan and his family traveled to Ankara, Turkey in 1970 for a one year sabbatical as a consulting economist for USAID. In 1971 he became a full professor and served as Department Chairman from 1976 to 1985.

Olan was elected by the University faculty to the Board of Trustees of Cornell University serving from 1984 until 1988. He served on the Board of Directors of Universal Foods Corporation, Milwaukee, WI from 1974 until 1996, and was the Director of the Cornell Program on Commodity Promotion Research from 1989 until 1995. His national organization involvement included Director of the National Institute of Commodity Promotion Research and Evaluation (1993-1995), Co-Chairman of the Northeast Marketing and Competition Research Planning Steering Committee (1977-1984), President of the Northeast Agricultural Economics Assembly (1980-1981), committee member of the American Agricultural Economics Association, and Chairman of (NEC-63) Research Committee on Commodity Promotion Programs (1985-1995). Olan and Ronald W. Ward, at the University of Florida, co-authored “Commodity Advertising: The Economics and Measurement of Generic Programs” in 1993.

In 1995 Olan retired from Cornell as Professor Emeritus. Olan devoted over 40 years of research on the economics of the production and distribution of food (particularly milk and eggs), and the measurement of commodity promotion programs. During his career, Olan had studied and consulted in Slovakia, Hungary, Turkey, England, Holland, Guatemala, Belgium, France, Ireland, Denmark, India, and Italy.

Olan was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church, City Club of Ithaca, and past member of Toastmasters International and Sertoma Club. He also served on the board of Foodnet Meals On Wheels and was a volunteer Gadabout driver. His favorite activities on water were sailing charter vessels with friends in the Caribbean and on land in a motor home driving from Alaska to Key West, Florida.

As he became challenged with Alzheimer’s Disease he enjoyed several years enrolled part-time in the Longview adult activities program before moving into Cascadilla House at Kendal. We are very grateful for the loving care he received from all of the staff especially during the last days in Kendal’s Seneca unit in Skilled Nursing.

Olan is survived by his wife of 67 years, Katie (Buuck) Forker of Kendal at Ithaca, sons Michael (Kathleen) of Novi, Michigan, Brent (Jeanette) of Trumansburg, NY and daughter, Sue Ruoff (Steve) of Lansing, NY, grandchildren Jennifer Forker Rudolph (Chris) and Nicholas Forker, and Jesse and Jason Ruoff, and great grandsons, Luke and Jack Rudolph and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, two brothers and one sister.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Trinity Lutheran Church, 149 Honness Lane, Ithaca, NY 14850; Foodnet Meals On Wheels, 2422 N. Triphammer Road, Ithaca, NY; or Gadabout, 737 Willow Avenue, Ithaca, NY.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 19 at Trinity Lutheran Church at 3:00 pm with calling hours starting at 2:00 pm. A reception at the church will follow immediately after the service. Internment, with Military Honors, will be at Pleasant Grove Cemetery at 6:00 pm. Lansing Funeral Home is assisting the family (

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Olan Dean Forker, please visit our flower store.


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