MTC Turf News – Mississippi Turfgrass Association
Wayne Philley has been a part of the Golf & Sports Turf Management Program for so long, it is hard to imagine it without him. We are certainly thankful that he answered the ad for a field technician in the Starkville Daily News placed by Dr. Jeff Krans — and that Dr. Krans hired him! But then, we all know how shrewd he is. That was the beginning of a long commitment and dedication to Mississippi State University and to the turf industry of Mississippi.
A native of Mississippi, Wayne received his AA Degree at Wood College in Mathiston, MS, a BS in Crop Science from MSU with an emphasis in Plant Breeding. Over the years he continued his education by taking additional classes and attending workshops and conferences all over the country. He and his lovely wife, Helen, have one daughter, Amanda.
When asked who mentored him along the way, his list reads like a Hall of Fame of Turf and his own name should be right in there. “Too many to list for fear of leaving anyone out,” he said, but here are a few: Jeff Krans, Roy Creech, Coleman Ward, Vance Watson, Euel Coats, Mike Goatley, Clarence Watson, Wayne Hanna, Richard Mullenax, Phil Busey, Paul Williams, Ed McWhirter, Jim Price, Wayne Wells, Brian Baldwin, Barry Stewart, Gregg Munshaw, Christian Baldwin, Ted Wallace, Jac Varco, Jay McCurdy, Eric Reasor.
What he likes most about his job is collecting different turfgrass ecotypes, crossing them, and observing the progeny these parents produce. He is very good at that…a lot of his “babies” have earned international recognition and made millions of dollars in royalties for Mississippi State University. Also, a lot of professional sports teams (baseball, football) are playing on turf developed by Wayne and Dr. Jeff Krans.
We could probably wallpaper the hall of third floor Dorman outside his office with all his awards and accomplishments — he received the Louis and Doris Wise Support Staff Award in 1995, CALS and MAFES Research Award 2004, MSU Office of Technology Management Innovator of the Year Award 2013, MTA Outstanding Turf Professional, MTA Distinguished Service Award and the 2019 MSU Zacharias staff award just to name a few. He is a member of ASA, CSSA, GCSAA and MTA, where he faithfully served as Secretary/Treasurer for many years.
The best advice he was ever given? “Do your best and God will do the rest.”
“I love this job in which God placed me. Any accomplishments, including the seven US patents, numerous invention disclosures, cultivar and germplasm registrations and publications are results of being allowed to work here for forty years.”
Although very modest when it comes to himself and his work, accolades from some of those who have worked with him through the years, acknowledge the importance of his place in turf history.
Dr. Jeff Krans
Congratulations on your retirement from Mississippi State and the Turfgrass Program. I clearly remember your first days on the job and your eagerness to work hard and do a good job. You accepted all duties and responsibilities that came your way and worked hard on self-improvement. You did a great job and thank you for all you did to help me get things done.
When I look back, I think we made a good team in research. You did the hard work and kept the field plots going and on track. The Bermuda grass cultivar development turned out better than either of us ever expected. The timing was right and we had some good luck along the way. Some of my best memories of us were on our trips to turfgrass meetings. We always shared a room and enjoyed going to the presentations. You made great professional progress by going to these meetings that added value to our turfgrass research. Thanks for having that self-initiative and adding new ideas to our work.
I know you and Helen are looking forward to living in Mathiston and traveling to seeing your daughter Amanda and her husband as well as other trips. Best of luck to you and Helen on your retirement.
Dr. Mike Goatley
Wayne Philley… my first thoughts: what a nice man and what a difference he has made to the MSU turf program, Mississippi State University, and the turf industry of the US as a whole. Wayne is one of the most recognized researchers from the Mississippi State program and his efforts in breeding are appreciated both nationally and internationally.
Wayne, you defined what it means to be a team player and that is the most important skill that you and so many of our colleagues taught me during my time in Starkville. Thanks for all that you did for me in support of my teaching, research, and outreach efforts, but also for all the behind the scenes efforts on behalf of the MTA. Most of all thanks for being such a wonderful person and colleague that I and so many others are privileged to call a friend.
Dr. Barry Stewart
I have been very fortunate to have worked with Wayne Philley and am extremely happy for he and his family on his impending retirement. I’ve spent the last week working with Wayne on our National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) rain out shelter. He is such a good person to work with. He has a calming aura that makes things go better. Wayne is a consummate professional who is always on time, professionally dressed and ready to work. He has an almost magical ability to be able to work hard at tasks that are dirty and never get dirty. I wish I had this ability, but alas I
I cannot begin to count all the times Wayne has come in early, stayed late or dropped everything he was doing to show a client, customer or colleague our turfgrass plots. He is an outstanding promoter and ambassador for our turfgrass research. His institutional knowledge will be greatly missed.
Wayne, my friend, Happy Retirement! You have certainly earned this. Enjoy!
Dr. Gregg Munshaw
When I was writing up my masters and Ph.D. research, there was a publication that I often referenced as the gospel when it came to seeded Bermudagrass. The title was something like ‘A Guide to Seeded Bermuda grasses’ by Philley and Krans, and if I sited it one time, I sited it 50 times. So when I found out I was going to be interviewing at Mississippi State and meeting the Wayne Philley, author of such publications as ‘A Guide to Seeded Bermuda grass’, I felt like a little girl at an Elvis concert! And then when I got the good news that I was going to be working with him, I was absolutely over the moon. Wayne and I clicked immediately as we had several interests in common — similar research ideas, we both liked good rock music (I introduced him to some newer sounds, he introduced me to some older ones), we both were into guitars, we both enjoyed a good comfortable brown shoe, to name just a few.
Wayne and my office doors were right next to each other so we had a seven and a half year conversation, both of us sitting in our desk chairs, maybe talking a little louder than normal so we wouldn’t actually have to stand up. When we got too loud, Barry Stewart and Wayne Wells would get involved and we would have a little pow-wow at the entrances to our offices. Those years working with Wayne never really felt like going to work — it was more like going to hang out with your buddy for eight hours a day, five days a week. I learned a lot about research and professionalism from Wayne and if he had any interest in spending his retirement breeding cool-season grasses in the transition zone, I’d hire him in a heartbeat.
Congratulations on your retirement, Wayne, you had a career that you should be proud of.
Dr. Wayne Wells
It is indeed a pleasure to recognize and honor Mr. Wayne Philley as he plans his retirement. On criteria of professionalism and dedication to MSU; serving as a role model for faculty, staff and students; demonstrating outstanding initiative and cooperation; competence and expertise; and making an impact personally and professionally on campus and elsewhere he gets an A+ in every category.
With a 40+ year MSU career of research, teaching and support of campus functions and activities, Wayne has worked with and has seen many university presidents, department heads, and turf faculty members come and go, budgets cut and promotions slow, and yet he has never gotten discouraged or changed his focus which is to wake each day with optimism and the idea that this is another opportunity to enhance the life of another student, colleague or improve the turfgrass industry.
Wayne’s accomplishments in the realm of teaching, research and extension are well documented through articles written, patents obtained, speeches given, and classes taught. Aspects of his initiative, dedication and service are often unnoticed unless you have closely worked with him as I had the opportunity and pleasure to do for thirteen years. His attitude and willingness to assist with outreach activities whether it is turf troubleshooting, giving a presentation, reviewing an extension article or attending a meeting is impeccable. Due to his uncanny eye to notice a mutation in a turfgrass cultivar or the subtle differences among treatments in research trials, he is recognized nationally for his competence and expertise in breeding southern turfgrasses. Oh, I should also mention that his turf patents have generated millions for MSU, and professional athletes across the country have played on grasses he has developed. No doubt his daily presence will be sorely missed by MSU and the turf industry, but we all celebrate his accomplishments and wish him the very best in retirement.
Dr. Jay McCurdy
During my time at MSU, there have been few people I have relied upon and confided in as much as Wayne Philley. His experience and knowledge have been instrumental to the success of our MSU turf program. Wayne has witnessed first-hand the turbulent nature of a large diverse faculty group. He has worked with numerous department heads, almost a dozen different turf faculty members, and more university presidents than most of us will ever know.
His research efforts have led to the issue of seven patents and four commercial variety releases, including ‘Express,’ ‘Pride,’ ‘Choice,’ and ‘Supreme’ bermudagrasses. Choice, also marketed as ‘Bull’s-Eye Bermuda®’ and ‘BOBSod®,’ has generated over $2.5 million dollars in revenue and was, until a few years ago, the largest patent royalty generator at MSU. Most recently, MSU released one of Wayne’s improved St. Augustine grasses (the experimental cultivar ‘MSA 2-3-98’), which is a sustainable alternative to existing options in shaded warm-season lawns of the mid- and deep-south.
As an educator, Wayne is an indispensable part of the Mississippi State Turfgrass Team. He has served as a committee member on graduate projects and as author and co-author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, grants, and contractual service agreements. He is a talented statistician and enjoys his frequent consultations with Masters and Ph.D. students concerning their projects.
Wayne has exemplified professionalism and dedication to the turfgrass community. His friendly smile and caring nature will be missed in the halls of Dorman. I wish him well, and I hope he won’t be a stranger.
I am happy for Wayne on the occasion of his retirement. But I am sure going to miss him!
We have worked side by side for over fifteen years. He was always there to ground me when I became worried that maybe we wouldn’t get enough sponsors for this or that event, or worried that someone’s feelings may have been hurt or maybe we should do things differently this year. He was always there, calmly advising and supporting. A very good friend as well as a colleague, they don’t come any better than Herbert Wayne Philley. Thank you, Wayne!READ THE ISSUE