Bruce W. Tharp, holder of B.S., M.S, and Ph.D. degrees in dairy science, Penn State University, passed away suddenly May 18, 2019. He was 89.
The son and grandson of ice cream industry pioneers, Dr. Tharp had a lifetime commitment to the processed dairy foods industry. With specialized interests in ice cream and frozen desserts, he was a recognized pioneer and innovator — and was so recognized as the inaugural recipient of the International Ice Cream Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, presented by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
After receiving his advanced degrees in dairy science, Tharp taught and did research as a faculty member at the University of Wyoming and The Ohio State University. After teaching and performing basic research, he managed the technical affairs of two major suppliers of high-technology ingredients for processed dairy foods, including serving as international technical director for Germantown International Ltd., now part of DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences.
Dr. Tharp’s professional activities included a major focus on ice cream science, technology and technical support activities, during which he achieved international recognition for his technical expertise, field experience and applied technical insights. This led to activities as an authoritative lecturer at short courses, seminars, workshops and technical conferences worldwide.
Dr. Tharp served as a lecturer at most academic ice cream short courses; he was a featured lecturer at the Penn State Ice Cream Short Course for 45 years. He also participated in custom on-site ice cream technical training programs at many international and domestic ice cream manufacturer and supplier locations, and served as technical advisor to a global consortium of independent ice cream manufacturers. For over 15 years, Dr. Tharp participated in the annual IDFA Ice Cream Technology Conference as both an invited lecturer and a technical advisor.
Dr. Tharp was a noted expert in the use of sensory evaluation of frozen desserts, which led to a 35-year appointment as official judge for the U.S. Intercollegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest, and then as overall head judge – ice cream.
In 1992, Dr. Tharp and Steven Young, Ph.D., co-developed the "Tharp & Young on Ice Cream: Technical Short Course, Workshops and Clinics" series, serving 600-plus companies representing all aspects of ice cream science and technology, product development and manufacturing. The short course series itself led to Dr. Tharp and Young co-authoring the reference text Tharp & Young on Ice Cream: An Encyclopedic Guide to Ice Cream Science and Technology (2012) to complement their quarterly Tharp & Young on Ice Cream technical columns for Dairy Foods magazine.
Dr. Tharp also held appointments as an adjunct professor of food science at the Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa., and adjunct professor of food chemistry at Drexel University, Philadelphia,.
The following quote summarizes his approach: “Most people in the ice cream industry are really, really nice folks! If you cannot have fun making ice cream, then consider working in a cough syrup factory.”
Dr. Tharp will be missed by all that he influenced as mentor, innovator, teacher, author and technical “change agent.” Not to mention those yet to find their technical future in the ice cream industry worldwide.