Knox County, IN | Certificate of Distinction: 1978
Born September 12, 1920, on an 80 acre family farm in Southern Indiana's Knox County, Oscar William "Ozzie" Luetkemeier learned to appreciate the land at an early age. He recalled working the fields with teams of horses and mules. In 1938, he entered Purdue University setting in motion a lifelong relationship with the university. After completing undergraduate work, he began graduate school with special interest in the application of high rates of fertilizer on corn, tomatoes, and sugar beets. These were the years of World War II, however, and Ozzie served in the Navy for three years as an electrician's mate assigned to a landing craft that transported Marines in the Pacific Theatre. In fact, Ozzie witnessed United States troops raising the flag on Iwo Jima.
After the war, Ozzie returned to Purdue and, in 1949, received his Master's Degree in Soils. During his studies, he pioneered irrigated-corn research. Ozzie was offered the post of Superintendent of the newly-created Purdue Agronomy Farm, a position he accepted and held for 37 years. During his tenure, he oversaw the conversion of a 374-acre general purpose family farm into a 714-acre outdoor research laboratory considered to be one of the finest in the U.S. Ozzie was a tremendous ambassador for Purdue, hosting an average of over 50 groups of visitors to the farm per year, including 10 to 15 international groups. Ozzie retired from his responsibilities to the farm in 1986. Ozzie maintained numerous professional affiliations, including: the Indiana Crop Improvement Association, Indiana Forage Council, and Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association. Among the achievements he was most proud of was his work in establishing a professional affiliate for experimental farm superintendents like himself, the American Society of Agronomy's Division of Agricultural Research Station Management. Ozzie was selected as its first national president. In 2007, he was selected as one of twelve charter recipients of a prestigious new award: the "Legends of Agronomy." In 1952, Ozzie and Louise joined the Evangelical and Reformed Church in Lafayette, which later became Immanuel United Church of Christ. He worshipped at Immanuel until his death. He served as Elder and Deacon, taught Sunday school, assisted with the Youth, sang in the choir, and served in many other capacities.