Lucian W. Zelazny, professor in Virginia Tech's Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences and resident of Blacksburg, died Tuesday, March 17. He was 66.

Throughout his career, Zelazny applied his profound knowledge of soil chemistry and mineralogy to the discovery of the relationship between soil components, soil solutions, and a variety of soil environmental questions.

Zelazny served as the graduate mentor or co-mentor for more than 35 graduate students and taught state-of-the–art, hands-on classes in soil chemistry, soil mineralogy, and colloid and surface chemistry. His efforts with students and collaborators ranged from qualitative and quantitative mineralogy to chemical relations of aluminum, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients in agricultural, forested, and highly distributed materials.

Zelazny received numerous honors and awards including being named Fellow of both the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy, and the Virginia Tech Gamma Sigma Delta Faculty Research Award. He published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and 19 book chapters, as well as countless abstracts, technical reports, and other publications.

Zelazny was a member of the Virginia Tech faculty for 33 years and was named Thomas B. Hutcheson Jr. Eminent Scholar in 1993. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont and his Ph.D. in soil science from Virginia Tech.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Layel Parker Zelazny; daughters and sons-in-law, Laura and Mike Venerable, of Mason, Ohio, Lisa and Mike Goatley, of Blacksburg, and Lesley and Mike Lafon, of Blacksburg; sons and daughters-in-law, Lucian and Donna Zelazny, of Blacksburg, and Lloyd and Gretchen Zelazny, of Richmond.

A celebration of Lucian's life will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 20, 2009, at St. Mary's Catholic Church on Old Mill Road in Blacksburg, Va. Lucian's family will receive friends from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2009, at McCoy Funeral Home, 150 Country Club Dr., Blacksburg, Va., and from 10 to 11 a.m. on Friday, March 20, 2009, at St. Mary's Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials designated to support the Lucian W. Zelazny Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Student Travel Fund. Checks can be made out to the Virginia Tech Foundation with the Zelazny Student Fund in the memo line and sent to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Development Office, 216D Hutcheson Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va., 24061.