This fund was created by the APS Caribbean Division, made possible by contributions of members of the division. The first José and Silvia Amador Student Travel Award was given at the 2004 APS Annual Meeting in Anaheim.
José Amador was born in 1938 in Calimete, a small town in the Matanzas Province of Cuba. After attending the University of Havana, he transferred to Louisiana State University (LSU), where he earned a B.S. degree in agronomy and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology. His Ph.D. studies were conducted under the tutelage of Harry Wheeler and elucidated the effects of the fungal toxin Victorin on susceptible oat tissue. Toward the end of his Ph.D. studies at LSU, he was encouraged by Harlan Smith, at the time a federal extension plant pathologist with CSRES, to apply for the position of extension plant pathologist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service at the Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Weslaco. He worked as the extension plant pathologist for South Texas from 1965 to 1991. In 1991, José was promoted to center director of the Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center and the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Citrus Center, both located at Weslaco. In 1994, he was appointed assistant secretary of agriculture for science and education by President Bill Clinton. He returned to his center director position after a short stay in Washington. He has served plant pathology in particular and the agriculture industry in general for almost 45 years in his capacity as graduate student, extension plant pathologist, and administrator. He has served each activity with distinction, and his accomplishments are well documented.
José’s devotion to APS is exemplified by the many offices he has held with the society and its divisions. He has been a member and chair of several committees, including the International Cooperation, Extension, and Tropical Plant Pathology committees, among others. He has been an active member of both the Southern and Caribbean Divisions from the time he was a student at LSU. He attended his first meeting of the Southern Division in 1963. Working with Marvin Miller and other plant pathologists at Weslaco, he helped organize one of the most popular meetings of the division when the Southern Division met in McAllen, TX, in 1988. The visit to valley agricultural enterprises at the invitation of local farmers, known as “Adopt a Plant Pathologist Day,” was an event still remembered by division members. He began attending meetings of the Caribbean Division in 1970. He received the Texas Superior Service Award in 1980 from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and the Texas A&M University Faculty Distinguished Service Award from the Texas A&M University Former Student Association in 1985. Just one year after the award was instituted, in 1989 José received the second Excellence in Extension Award conferred by APS.
José has made many of his outstanding contributions working with the Caribbean Division and serving as councilor of the division for two terms (1985–1991). He taught a three-week course on diseases caused by fungi at the “El Zamorano” agricultural school in Honduras, training plant quarantine personnel from the five countries in Central America and Panama to better identify diseases caused by fungi. Some of these students later joined the Caribbean Division. In 1997, he received the Frederick T. Wellman Award, the highest honor conferred by the division to one of its members, for outstanding service to the science of plant pathology and the Caribbean Division. José served two terms (10 years) as a member of the APS Public Policy Board. He served as vice president and president of the Caribbean Division from 1998 to 2002 and is currently serving as the immediate past president and a member of the Executive Committee.
In April 2003, José received the Golden Knight of Latin American Phytopathology Award from the Latin American Society of Plant Pathology (ALF), within which he served as vice president from 1999 to 2001 and president from 2001 to 2003. José pioneered a cooperative program with the Instituto Superior de Tecnología y Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Monterrey Tech) and the Escuela de Agricultura de la Región de los Trópicos Húmedos (EARTH) in Costa Rica take their students as interns for one semester at the Weslaco Centers. He was instrumental in obtaining a grant of $250,000 from the Agency for International Development (AID) to the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences at Texas A&M University-Kingsville to begin an exchange program with Monterrey Tech to improve the knowledge of students and the efficiency of farmers in Mexico in the most practical and economical use of water when irrigating crops.
Silvia Amador was born Silvia García Gómez in Havana, Cuba, in 1944. She attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Havana. In 1961, she left her family in Havana and moved to Rochester, NY, under the sponsorship of the Catholic Diocese of Miami and the City of Miami. These groups operated a program popularly known as “Operation Peter Pan” to provide an education to more than 14,000 young students from Cuba. She graduated in 1962 from Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in Rochester and moved to New Orleans to live with the family of one of her Rochester high-school roommates, and to attend and work at Tulane University.
While in New Orleans, Silvia met José who was finishing his Ph.D. degree in Baton Rouge. She moved to Weslaco after their marriage in 1965. She taught conversational Spanish to children and adults. She then became a realtor and broker, founding her own company, Texan Realty, which she has operated successfully since 1981 in McAllen, TX. In 1981, she took part in the Mariel boat lift, traveling to Cuba on a shrimp boat with Jose’s brother to bring back five family members to join them in the United States. Silvia is well known by members of the Caribbean Division, having attended almost as many division meetings as José and helping with several of the functions at the meetings. During the Pan American Plant Disease Conference, Silvia was a member of the Local Arrangements Committee and was put in charge of the companions’ activities, taking them on tours of the Valley, Kingsville, and Corpus Christi. She and José have been firm believers in and regular contributors to the APS Foundation. José and Silvia have three children and five grandchildren.