Elmer H. Marth

Madison/ Emeritus Professor Elmer H. Marth, age 78, died on Monday, June 19 at UW Hospital. He was born on a dairy farm near Jackson on Sept. 11, 1927, the son of William F. and Irma A. (Bublitz) Marth. He was baptized and later confirmed at Emanuel Lutheran Church near Jackson, a congregation founded in 1847 by Pomeranian immigrants.

He graduated from West Bend High School in 1944. While in high school and for several years afterward, Elmer was active in the Future Farmers of America (FFA). In 1946, the National FFA honored him with its highest award, the American Farmer Degree, given in recognition of his excellent contributions to agriculture.

In the fall of 1944, Elmer enrolled at UW-Madison and, after completing his freshman year, returned to the home farm where he remained until the fall of 1947 when he came back to UW-Madison where he earned his B.S. (1950) and Ph. D. (1954) degrees, all in bacteriology with an emphasis on food/dairy bacteriology. Research he completed for his Ph. D. degree provided the scientific basis for regulatory approval of the then new method-pipeline milker and bulk milk cooling tank for producing milk on the farm, a method, with some modifications, that is still used today.

Dr. Marth was appointed as project associate (1954-55) and then instructor (1955-1957) in bacteriology. In both positions, he taught bacteriology to undergraduate and farm short-course students and did post-doctoral research on the bacteriology of concentrated milk products.

On Aug. 10, 1957, at Calvary Lutheran Chapel in Madison, he married Phyllis E. Menge, a medical technician and native of Fall Creek. A few weeks later the newlyweds moved to Deerfield, Ill. where Elmer worked in the Research and Development Division of Kraft Foods in nearby Glenview, Ill. Elmer rose through the ranks at Kraft Foods and in 1966 was named associate manager of the Microbiology Laboratory.

Elmer returned to UW-Madison in 1966 as associate professor of food science with joint appointments in bacteriology and food microbiology and toxicology. Dr. Marth was promoted to professor in 1971 and upon retirement in 1990, was named emeritus professor.

Dr. Marth also served as editor of the Journal of Food Protection from 1967 to 1987. It was largely through his efforts and leadership that the journal became the leading medium, worldwide, for publication of papers dealing with food safety. When major outbreaks of foodborne illness occurred in the United States, Marth spent countless hours on the telephone providing sound information to concerned persons in the industry and to representatives of the media. Dr. Marth was the major professor for 32 students who received the M.S. degree and also for 32 students who earned the Ph. D. degree. Marth also supervised 17 post-doctoral researchers who worked in his laboratory for periods ranging from 3 months to several years.

During his career, Marth was the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of over 660 scientific publications, including research papers, review papers, books, chapters in books, patents, and abstracts of papers given at meetings of professional organizations. His research papers and review papers appeared in about 50 domestic and foreign scientific journals. Although he was pleased with all his publications, he was particularly pleased with the book, "Milk, Microbes and Marth: An Autobiography," published in 2001.

Marth was a member of numerous professional organizations and served on several academic committees. From 1968 to 1985 he was a member (chairman 1972-1978) of the technical committee of the American Public Health Association that supervised the preparation of the 13th, 14th and 15th editions of "Standard Methods for the Examination of Dairy Products." The excellence of his research and teaching was recognized with many awards from various professional and industrial organizations.

Dr. Marth was preceded in death by his parents, an infant brother, and an infant son. He is survived by his wife Phyllis. A Christian memorial service was held on Friday, June 23 at Cress Funeral Home.