Dec. 12, 1917 — Jan. 21, 2014
Dewey J. Raski, age 96, died peacefully at his home in Davis on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Born on Dec. 12, 1917 in Kenilworth, Utah, to John and Signa Raski, Dewey was raised in the Los Angeles area, where he excelled in football and wrestling in high school.
Dewey earned a bachelor degree in entemology from UC Berkeley in 1941. As an undergraduate, he was a champion wrestler, even trying out for the U.S. Olympic team. He was working on his master’s degree when Peal Harbor was attacked. Dewey suspended his academic pursuits, enlisting in the Army Air Forces. Earning his wings as a fighter pilot, Dewey had the opportunity to fly the P-51 Mustang, and spent the majority of the war as an instructor in Texas.
While on leave in Colorado to visit his parents, Dewey met the love of his life, Evelyn Calmett. They were married in Texas in 1943 starting a 70-year adventure together with a honeymoon in Mexico. After the war, Dewey continued in the Air Force Reserve, retiring at the rank of Major.
Upon returning to Berkeley, he earned his PhD in Entomology in 1948 and lectured there for the following six years. In 1954, Dr. Raski transferred to UC Davis as chairman of the new department of nematology. Dr. Raski became a world renowned nematologist as his career took him around the globe. As far back as 1963, he developed a particular affinity for India. Dr. Raski was instrumental in establishing the division of nematology at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute.
The Indian Society of Nematologists initiated a Prof D.J. Raski Academic Award for the best nematological research for young scholars, in recognition of his contributions to Indian nematology and its scientists. Retiring in 1987, Dr. Raski received many awards during his life, including being elected as a fellow and honorary member of the Society of Nematologists. In 1998, Dr. Raski was the recipient of the Award of Distinction from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis.
Dewey, affectionately known as “Pakkah” to family and friends, was a charming, caring and gregarious man. More than a revered instructor, Pakkah became a friend and father to his students, which he considered the greatest treasure of his career. Dewey was also active in the community, helping to organize Habitat for Humanity. He was an active participant in the International House, supporter of the STEAC and Doctors Without Borders and financially supported a number of other causes. One of his most cherished achievements was heading the stained glass window project at the United Methodist Church.
Pakkah’s family was central to his life. His survivors include wife Evelyn (affectionately known as “Gram”); children Carole (Yancey) Juergenson, Paul (Teri) Raski and Maya (Rodney) Bodine; and their daughter-in-law Barbara. Dewey was pre-deceased by a son, Bill. Pakkah also leaves behind 11 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. A family favorite tradition, dating back to 1988, was the semi-annual Thanksgiving gatherings in Carmel, sponsored by Pakkah and Gram. The universal affection accorded to Pakkah, by family, friends and casual acquaintances, is a fitting testament to the man we will all deeply miss.
A Memorial Service will begin at 2 p.m. on March 24 at the United Methodist Church, 1620 Anderson Road in Davis. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in his name to Doctors Without Borders, of the Davis United Methodist Church.