Professor Elmer Counce Tribute

Elmer Counce

Professor Elmer W. Counce

Professor Emeritus in Soil Science


University of Tennessee Professor Emeritus Elmer W. Counce, age 90, of Martin passed away Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Professor Counce began his association with UT Martin as a student when it was The University of Tennessee Junior College (UTJC). Since it was a Junior College at that time, he transferred to UTK to complete his BS and MS degrees. He returned to Martin in 1953 as a faculty member and served under J.E. McMahan, Glen Hall, Harold Smith, and Jim Byford. Dr. Byford was not only a colleague of his, but also a former student.


Prof. Counce met his wife, Marilucille, in Harry Harrison Kroll's English class at UTJC. They were married for 65 years and have one son, Ben, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.


During Prof. Counce's tenure at UTM he taught all the agronomy classes and introduced the first class in forestry. Over the years, he served as the soils team coach and trained teams that placed in National competition for 10 years. Many of those same students made major contributions to the soil conservation efforts in Tennessee and other states.


In 1953 Prof. Counce was asked to head the first alumni and placement office at UTJC and served in that capacity until 1964. While serving as head of alumni, he continued his full-time teaching and research position with the Agriculture Department.


Prof. Counce won the UT Alumni Association Outstanding Teaching Award and a number of Farm Bureau and Soil Conservation awards for service to Tennessee agriculture. The Soil Conservation Society of America recognized Prof. Counce as a Fellow in the 1980's. Teaching students was his greatest joy. Over his teaching career, Prof. Counce taught an estimated 12,000 students.


In 1988, Prof. Counce retired from the UT Martin Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources as Professor Emeritus of Soil Science, but he continued to teach part-time for the department over the next 10 years.


Professor Counce's legacy lives on through the 12,000 students he mentored during his prestigious career at UT Martin. He was a great American and made a positive impact on his students, his community, our state, and our country.


A gift fund has been established for Professor Elmer W. Counce in the Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and Natural Resources. Contact Mrs. Dana Prince (email: or Phone: 731-881-7633) for details on the Elmer W. Counce Gift Fund.