Dr. Lonnie Gene Dalton
July 20, 1934 – June 28, 2020
Dr. Lonnie Gene Dalton, age 85 of Greenville, S.C., passed away on Sunday, June 28, 2020. A memorial service and burial will be held in Shattuck, Okla., on August 22, 2020, where he will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife of 48 years, Nadine, who proceeded him in death in 2008. Services will be under the care of Mason Funeral Home of Shattuck, Oklahoma. Gene was born to Glen and Billie Dalton on July 20, 1934, in Carter, Okla., and was raised on the family farm near Carter where he graduated from Carter High School, receiving a full agricultural scholarship to a college of his choice due to his outstanding merits as an FFA student, school leader, and athlete. While attending Oklahoma State University, Gene Dalton served as a delegate to the national agronomy convention and was an active member and leader in Collegiate FFA, Aggie council, and Farmhouse Fraternity. He graduated with a B.S. degree in Agronomy in 1956 and M.S. in field crops in 1957. He also enrolled in the Marine Corps Officer Candidate Course in 1957 and graduated as a lieutenant from the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidates School in Quantico, V.A., in 1958. After resigning from the Marine Corps as a captain and upon completion of his tour in Okinawa, Japan, Gene completed his doctorate in plant genetics at North Carolina State University in 1965. While stationed in San Francisco, Calif., as a general’s aide in 1960, Gene met and married the love of his life, Nadine Rose Walton, and embarked on a life’s journey together that encompassed a shared love of family, adventure, and joyful dancing inspiring all they knew, particularly their three daughters, with their unwavering love and commitment to each other as well as their children and grandchildren. During their 48 years together they lived in California, Virginia, Texas, Iowa, and North Carolina and made many wonderful memories in their extensive world travels, raising their family and enjoying new adventures with their 12 grandchildren. Gene was also much loved by his many nieces and nephews and extended family, who also valued his generosity and guiding presence in their lives. Gene, an avid golfer, has imparted many words of wisdom and life lessons on the links. After Nadine’s passing in 2008, Gene moved to Greenville, S.C., and married a kind and lovely woman, Celia Saunders, in 2012. Celia brought joy and love to his life and they shared many global adventures together, as well as a shared commitment to their faith. Gene Dalton was not only a devoted husband and father, but was also a generous mentor and leader in his 37 year career with Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed International. He believed in the value of education, both formal and informal, and guided many people in their careers on a global level. His legacy in the field of research is long lasting and wide reaching. In his career, Gene established successful research stations internationally promoting the development of sorghum as a viable and important crop for global communities. To honor Dr. Dalton’s contributions and legacy of excellence, Pioneer named a lifetime achievement award after him in 2005 called the Gene Dalton Evolution Impact Award. This award recognizes sustained and long-term leadership in scientific excellence, specifically contributions that significantly enhance or improve science, product development or business. His legacy will live on, as it is given annually to the top researchers in the field to this day. Gene is survived by his daughters: Kim (Phil) Greig of Greenville, South Carolina; Lori Miksch of Waterloo, Iowa; and Angie (Raymond “Scooter”) Billington of Wellington, Colorado. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren and one great grandson: Emily Greig (Edward) Meyer, Travis and Natalie Greig; Ryan (Paige) Miksch, Tessa, Joshua, Sarah, and Andrew Miksch; Megan, Connor, Katie, and Jenna Billington, and great grandson Henry Phillip Meyer. Also surviving are his second wife, Celia Saunders of Greer, South Carolina, his younger brother Bill Dalton of Lawton, Oklahoma, and his younger sister Sherry Coman of Sultan, Washington. Gene is preceded in death by his parents, first wife Nadine, and his older sister Sue Smith of California. Gene will be remembered by his family and friends as a humble, generous, courageous man of integrity, chivalry and faith who loved well, lived fully, and laughed often. He will be dearly missed. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donating to the American Heart Association or Special Olympics, in honor of his grandson who has special needs. Condolences and shared memories can be made at dignitymemorial.com.