Norman Frederick Haard, a retired UC Davis food biochemist who found expression of his faith and science as a noted expert on fish, died June 29 of prostate cancer in Magalia, his family said. He was 70.
Dr. Haard was a pioneering researcher and teacher in the field of food biochemistry. He studied fruits and vegetables before devoting the last 25 years of his career to the sub-cellular biochemistry of fish and marine organisms.
He was a fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists and received prestigious awards for his research and contributions to fisheries technology. He advised and mentored more than 100 graduate students worldwide and established or aided food biochemistry programs in Canada, China, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Thailand and Uruguay.
He was a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, before joining UC Davis in 1986.
"When we brought him in, we were looking for the best in the country for that type of work," retired UC Davis professor Larry Merson said. "That's what we got."
Fish were more than a research subject for Dr. Haard. An avid fisherman, he trolled waters in many countries and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. His favorite meal was seafood, and he sat down to freshly boiled Maine lobster at dinner every Father's Day.
"He had a totally open mind about seafood," said his wife, Victoria. "In Japan, he ate live abalone, and he'd eat squid and octopus and eel. He would try anything."
The fisherman was also an important symbol of faith for Dr. Haard, who had a religious awakening soon after settling in Davis and became a devout Christian, his wife said. He was an active member of First Baptist Church in Davis and Ridge Presbyterian Church in Paradise. He supported missions and shared his scientific expertise in developing countries that rely on fish as a food staple.
He helped spread the word of God as a longtime member of The Gideons International. As distribution chairman for the Chico Gideon Camp, he placed thousands of Bibles at colleges, hotels and hospitals.
"He summed up his faith in the verse in Matthew (4:19), where Jesus says, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,' " his wife said.
Dr. Haard was born in 1941 in New York and grew up in New York and New Jersey. He earned a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University and a doctorate in food biochemistry from University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He completed post-doctoral studies at the Institute for Enzyme Research at University of Wisconsin in Madison.
He was married for 48 years and had three children. He moved with his wife to Magalia and commuted for several months before retiring from UC Davis in 2003. Private and quiet in temperament, he found fulfillment in his research and faith.
"That was the way he served others," Merson said.