While there are countless unsung heroes throughout history that are deserving of great recognition and appreciation, few have dedicated their retirement years to creating a better and more sustainable world that will be led by future generations to come. One such older adult, Gary Booth, has done just that.
Born and raised in Kentucky, Gary has stayed connected with his roots as he seeks to elevate the community through various scholarships, academic support, economic research, and green energy projects. His “retirement” is spent dedicated to helping today’s students gain the skills needed to change tomorrow’s future.
After earning his doctorate in organic chemistry from Ohio State University, Gary went on to work at Procter & Gamble as a phenomenally successful research manager. During his 31-year career at P&G, Gary contributed to the development of well-known products such as Bounty paper towels, Pantene shampoo, Crest toothpaste, Folgers coffee, and many more items that have now become a staple in most households.
In 2008, Gary and his wife, Jane, established the Booth Scholarship Fund for Chemistry and Biochemistry at Ohio State. The goal of this scholarship fund is to provide fully covered educational opportunities for future generations of chemists regardless of their financial limitations. Both Gary and his wife also serve as mentors for each recipient of the Booth Scholarship Fund allowing them to mentor the students both professionally and academically. In 2016, Gary was awarded the Ohio State University Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his efforts in educating and mentoring the next generation of scientists and chemists.
Gary also remains a dedicated Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) alumnus, helping provide underserved students with scholarships and the emotional support necessary to succeed in college. He has also been a driving force behind creating a more sustainable environment. His company, Starshine Energy, has built six solar farms in Kentucky. Three of these are at schools, including Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State Universities, and allow students to mine data and learn more about the production of power and the process of extracting valuable information from a large database.
The Starshine Energy solar farms are only a portion of his solar projects. For over 20 years, he has worked with SonLight Power—a Christian organization that focuses on bringing power to poor communities by installing solar panels in Guatemala, Haiti, and Africa.
Gary is highly involved in the economic development of Ohio and Kentucky. For a decade he has chaired a team of alumni who mentor professors at Ohio State University in developing businesses from their research. And in Kentucky, he actively mentors and funds a team of high school boys who believe they can grow the world’s best strawberries hydroponically.
Other prestigious accomplishments include receiving an honorary doctoral degree from EKU in 2005, being among the first to receive the EKU College of Science Award in 2017 due to his impactful contributions and receiving an honorary Doctor of Science degree and professorship in chemistry from St. Petersburg University in Russia.
When Gary made the move to Maple Knoll Village retirement community, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the fall of 2020 his passion for creating a more sustainable future only increased. He is an enthusiastic member of the resident Arboretum and Sustainability Committees and has used his expertise to advise on ways Maple Knoll can reduce their carbon emissions, especially when it comes to new construction on campus. He has helped provide management with insight into new tax laws that provide incentives for sustainability projects, assisted architects and engineers to determine how new buildings can be carbon neutral, and has championed fundraising efforts for The Maple Knoll Communities’ Foundation sustainability projects.
His selfless disposition and generous heart continue to make a difference in the lives of every person he meets. His passion for sustainability is contagious and makes everyone around him excited for the future.
Learn more about this prestigious induction here: Ohio Department of Aging announces class for 2023 Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame | Department of Aging