James Robert Nuss, Jr., 81, of State College, died on Thursday, May 21, 2020, at home. Born January 2, 1939, in Kingston, Luzerne County, PA, he was the son of the late Rebecca M. (Branch) and J. Robert Nuss, Sr. On October 27, 1972, in Bellefonte, he married M. Suzanne Lyons, who survives.
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Bob was a 1956 graduate of Kingston High School. He received his B.S. (1960), M.S. (1962), and Ph.D. (1967) degrees from The Pennsylvania State University, all in Horticulture.
Bob began his professional career with Penn State in 1966 and retired in July 2000 as Professor Emeritus of Ornamental Horticulture. He was the Cooperative Extension Specialist for ornamental horticulture and presented talks and educational programs for home gardeners and commercial crop producers across the Commonwealth. He started and was actively involved with the statewide Master Gardener program. Bob taught, even after retirement, many of the classes for volunteers who went on to assist county Extension staff in answering questions related to home horticulture.
Each fall from 1969 until retirement he taught the undergraduate course “Ornamental Plant Materials” in the Horticulture Department, as well as plant identification for the Turf Short Course. From 1983 to 2000 he wrote a weekly gardening column, “Roots,” which appeared in newspapers across Pennsylvania and beyond. Bob also participated in a number of radio and television programs.
During his tenure at Penn State he served on many department, college, and university committees, and had numerous professional affiliations.
Bob was an avid trap shooter and participated in matches around Pennsylvania, as well as at his home club, the Philipsburg Rod and Gun Club, where he was a past president and director. He was a member of the Cameron County Bucktail Rod and Gun Club, Pennsylvania Rifle and Pistol Association, National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, and a life member of both the Amateur Trapshooting Association and the National Rifle Association.
During the fall he enjoyed small game hunting and deer hunting with a flintlock rifle. Bob was at home in the outdoors and often hiked the woods of Pennsylvania. He also loved annual visits to the Maine coast. His second home was “Almost Maine,” their cabin in Sullivan County (PA). He and Sue had several extended vacations to the western United States, visiting many national parks and Native American sites.
Bob hand crafted traditional leather items used by muzzleloader hunters and other outdoorsmen, which he sold through his craft business, “Nuss Lederarbeiten.” The family joke was that he gave away more than he sold! Bob had a quick wit and a dry sense of humor that could be missed if you weren’t paying attention.
In addition to his wife, Bob is survived by his sister, Virginia Michael (Barry Lind) of Lakeville, ME; niece Becky Michael (Melvin Maxwell), Naples, FL; and nephew Bobby Michael (Cindy) and children Brooklynn and Bowden, of Enterprise, AL. Also surviving are his wife’s family, Rebecca and John Peplinski, Pennsylvania Furnace; Joanna Lyons, Bellefonte; Michael and Dana Mauger, Encinitas, CA; Bethany, David, Jacob, and Emma Lucas, Lynn Haven, FL; and Wesley, Christina, and Robert Mauger, Huntingtown, MD.
Funeral arrangements are private and under the direction of Wetzler Funeral Service, Inc. in Bellefonte.
In lieu of flowers, donations are welcome to the Sullivan County Food Pantry, PO Box 55, Dushore, PA 18614, or Centre County PAWS, 1401 Trout Road, State College, PA 16801. Please note “In Memory of Bob Nuss” on any memorial contribution.