Dr. James Walter Kesterson (1915-2006)

Inducted 1996


Winter Haven

Lake Alfred Citrus Research & Education Center

Essential Oil Industry

Residue of Citrus Pulp



James Walter Kesterson was born in Texas, but it was his life in Winter Haven, Florida that he devoted to the development of citrus by-products. As a chemist, he discovered that discarded citrus peelings could be turned into revenue for the industry. His service to the industry at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred spanned 32 years. When he arrived in Florida in 1947, there was a very low output of citrus by-products, coupled with an equally low dollar value. But largely due to his innovative discoveries, by 1978 the annual gross return for citrus byproducts was $217 million with an annual return to the industry of more than $1 per box of processed fruit, while the state’s investment in this research was only about $50,000 a year. Kesterson is credited with the development of the essential oil industry in Florida, which extracts essential oils from peelings to be used in products like flavorings and perfumes. He also developed some of the earliest analytical data for pesticide residues in citrus pulp. Kesterson assisted in the development of numerous commercial and specialty products during his career and was instrumental in gathering the resources needed for the construction and operation of CREC’s dried citrus pulp feed mill. Kesterson published more than 150 bulletins and other publications within the industry and continued his active involvement with processors, product suppliers and buyers until his retirement in 1980.