honors 2019 Annual Celebration Banner

You are here: Home / News / 2017 CASNR Distinguished Alumnus: Richard Large

2017 CASNR Distinguished Alumnus: Richard Large


Richard Large of Cordova, Tennessee, got his hands dirty at a young age, and he liked it.

As part of his high school soil judging team in Culver, Indiana, Large developed an interest in soils and later made it his career. Even in retirement, he passion has not faded.

“Dr. Large comes at least once a week, if not twice a week, and works one-on-one with students and tutors them in mathematics and then he works in the garden,” said Sarah Hamer, professional learning community coach at White Station Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee. “He actually initiated the garden club and the students plant vegetables each year and then they harvest those vegetables. He teaches them about soil and plants and how to rotate the plants in and out so the soil remains good.”

Large earned his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Purdue University in 1962. After serving in the U.S. Army, he came to Oklahoma State University and graduated with a master’s degree in agronomy in 1966.

Large was recently recognized at DASNR Honors night as a 2017 Distinguished Alumni of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University.

His research in graduate school had an animal science focus in micronutrients, where he looked at the feeding of Bermudagrass to increase uptake of potassium rather than feed mineral supplements.

Following his doctoral studies in agronomy and soil chemistry at Ohio State in 1969, Large spent more than four decades serving as the owner and president of A&L Laboratories, which is one of the largest and most preeminent soil testing labs in the world.

Established in 1971 by Large and partner Don Ankerman, the lab focuses on quality of service, accuracy in testing and expediency on returns. In 1986, the company began environmental testing and eventually, microbiological testing. The company continued to grow, adding locations both domestically and overseas. Upon retirement, Large sold the labs and stayed on as a consultant.

In retirement, Large was recruited by Bill Pickens, founder of the Gift of Life Mid-South. It wasn’t long until he assumed the responsibilities of treasurer of the project dedicated to saving the lives of children, one heart at a time.

“He’s basically our go-to-guy for anything we need. There’s just not anything we’ve asked him to do that he didn’t just give 110 percent,” Pickens said. “Gift of Life Mei-South has brought 80 children to Memphis in the last 10 years for life-saving procedures.”

Large also provides support to OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and the OSU Edmon Low Library, among other groups. He serves as an OSU Alumni recruiter and is a life member of the OSU Alumni Association.