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Hall of Fame

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2019 Mark Hickman Tuscaloosa, AL Peco Foods
Mark Hickman

Mark Hickman, president and chief executive officer of Peco Foods, joined his father, Denny (2004) in the Mississippi Poultry Hall of Fame in 2019, Mark, who has more than 35 years of corporate experience in the poultry business, led the company founded by his grandfather and has overseen its growth to the eighth largest poultry company in the nation. Peco's plants in Mississippi include processing plants in Bay Springs, Canton, and Sebastopol, further processing plants in Brooksville and Canton, hatcheries in Philadelphia and Sebastopol, feed mills in Bay Springs, Lake and Philadelphia and a cold-storage facility in West Point. Peco employs more than 3,600 in Mississippi. The Tuscaloosa native was named Peco Foods Vice President in 1987 and CEO in 2002. Mark is a past chairman of the National Chicken Council. He holds three degrees from The University of Alabama: a B.A. in General Management, an M.A. in Finance and an MBA.

2017 Dr. Yvonne Vizzier-Thaxton Jackson MFC Services, Marshall Durbin, Mississippi State University, Univ. of Ark.
Dr. Yvonne Vizzier-Thaxton

Dr. Yvonne Vizzier-Thaxton was born in Memphis. She earned a B.S. and M.S. from Mississippi University for Women and started working at and then managing the Food Products Laboratory for MFC Services (AAL) in Jackson and then became Laboratory Manager, and later Director of Laboratory Services and finally Vice President of Science and Quality Assurance at Marshall Durbin Co. While at Marshall Durbin, she earned a Ph.D. from Auburn in Poultry Pathology. She was married to the late Dr. Paul Thaxton, an MSU professor and pioneer in vaccination technology.

She was head of the Mississippi State University Poultry Science Department and retired in 2016 from the Center for Animal Wellbeing at the University of Arkansas and returned to the Jackson, Miss. area. She was inducted into the American Poultry Industry Hall of Fame in 2015.

Dr. Vizzier-Thaxton was a member of The Southern Poultry Science Association where she served as president, The American Poultry Historical Society, also serving as president, The World Poultry Association, The Institute of Food Technologists', The American Association of Avian Pathologists' and served on the advisory board for the American Humane Association.

She was on the Mississippi Poultry Association Board of Directors for 22 years, serving as chair of the board in 1992.

2016 Danny Thornton Carthage Miss. Bd of Aminal Health, Miss. State University, Peco grower
Danny Thornton

Danny Thornton of Carthage is the first poultry grower inducted into the Hall of Fame. He has been a consultant, an educator, a regulator and a grower of broilers and pullets.

Thornton's family built some of the first broiler houses in Leake County in the late 1940s. They were contract broiler growers for R & R Milling, where Danny later worked. He spent his childhood working on the family farm before earning his poultry science degree from Miss. State University. He went on to earn a master's in poultry nutrition.

Thornton worked for 34 years as a poultry epidemiologist for the Mississippi Board of Animal Health. He then worked for four years as a Poultry Extension Specialist at MSU. He currently conducts animal welfare audits for Process Management Consulting of Nashville, Tenn. and is a contract pullet grower for Peco Farms. He serves on the MPA Grower Advisory Committee and was chairman for two years, during which time he was on the MPA Executive Committee.

2015 Henry Welch Gordo Peco Foods
Henry Welch

A native of Magee and a 1972 graduate of Mississippi State University, Henry Welch previously worked for Marshall Durbin Farms, Perdue Farms and other industry leaders before coming on board with Peco at their Bay Springs complex. He took over responsibility for live production at the Gordo/Tuscaloosa complex in 2005 until his retirement in 2016.

Henry has held numerous leadership roles in the poultry industry. He is a long-time director and past chairman of the board of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and the Mississippi Poultry Association. He received the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine's Pegasus Award in 1997, the MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Achievement Award in 2008, and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association Lamplighter Award for service to the industry in 2013.

2014 Dr. Bruce Glick Starkville Miss. State University
Bruce Glick

Dr. Bruce Glick's pioneering Ph. D. research focused on the Bursa of Fabricius, an organ unique to birds. Bruce and fellow graduate student, Timothy S. Chang, made the discovery that removing the Bursa at an early age significantly impaired a chicken's ability to produce antibodies. Discovery of the Bursa's role revolutionized the study of immunology advancing agricultural and biomedical science.

Dr. Glick was the Giles Distinguished Professor of Poultry Science at Mississippi State University and Chair of the Clemson University Poultry Science Department in his 40-year academic career. Born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1927, he authored 225 scientific papers, review articles and book chapters. His research expanded knowledge of poultry across physiology, endocrinology, genetics, behavior, anatomy as well as immunology.

He joined the MSU faculty in 1955 and rose to full professor rank. The Giles Distinguished Professor is MSU's highest faculty honor. He led in the acquisition of funds to expand the MSU Poultry Science Building. He became Head of the Clemson University Poultry Science Department in 1986 where he served until 1995. He was inducted into the National Poultry Hall of Fame in 2013.

2013 Dr. Robert Keirs Starkville Miss. State University
Robert W. Keirs

Robert W. Keirs is credited by some as helping to get poultry medicine started at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. His primary area of expertise at MSU was hatching efficiency analysis and pre- and post-embryonic chick quality.

After receiving his D.V.M. at Iowa State College in 1955, Dr. Keirs worked for multiple poultry suppliers before coming to MSU. He worked in the poultry industry for 50 years. While at MSU, he cooperated with Poultry Science, USDA-ARS and suppliers to accomplish applied research projects to benefit the broiler industry.

He served in the U.S. Navy as a chief petty officer from 1942-48 in the Submarine Service. He received commendations from Admiral Chester Nimitz and General Douglas McArthur.

Dr. Kiers had a wide range of experience in regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical firms and poultry companies before coming to MSU as a professor in 1981. He had a small animal practice, worked for federal agencies, for hatchery companies, as a laboratory veterinarian for Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories and as a Director of Avian Health and Quality Control for Peterson Farms. He was a member of the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

2012 Kenneth "Doc" Williams Brandon McCarty Farms, Choctaw Maid Farms, Tyson
Kenneth 'Doc' Williams

Kenneth Williams was born and raised on a small farm in Rankin County and graduated from Puckett High School. He attended Hinds Junior College and received a degree in Poultry Science from Mississippi State University in 1969.

Shortly after graduation he started working with .McCarty Farms as a broiler tech, rising to Director of Live Production before McCarty Farms McCarty Farms was sold to Tyson Foods in 1995. Doc worked with Choctaw Maid Farms as Vice President of Live Production and continued to work there until Choctaw Maid Farms became Tyson Foods. He was the Tyson Foods Complex Manager in Forest until his retirement in 2009.

Doc served on the Mississippi Board of Animal Health, as Chairman of the MPA Board in 2000, and as a member of the National Chicken Council Planning Committee.

2011 Coyt C. "Bud" West Laurel Sanderson Farms
Coyt C. 'Bud' West

Coyt C. "Bud" West majored in agricultural education and took on a few different jobs after graduation from Mississippi State University in 1960. After graduation, he returned home to manage his family soybean farm.

Then Hurricane Camille put the farm out of business in 1969. Bud joined Sanderson Farms that year as a pullet handling supervisor. He was promoted repeatedly and was eventually placed in charge of Sanderson Farms' expansions in McComb, MS in 1993 and the building of a new complex in Bryan-College Station, Texas in 1997. West eventually returned to the business headquarters in Laurel as director of production. He retired in 2005.

The McComb Sanderson Complex expanded the poultry industry's reach into Southwest Mississippi.

2010 Dr. J. Paul Thaxton Starkville Miss. State University
Dr. J. Paul Thaxton

Dr. Thaxton co-founded Embrex, the first biotechnology company devoted to products for the poultry industry. While at Embrex, he was the author of seven patents and received the Governor of North Carolina's Award of Entrepreneurial Excellence.

A native of Starkville, he graduated from Mississippi State University. He also earned a master's degree at MSU, followed by a doctorate in animal physiology from the University of Georgia. After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Thaxton joined the faculty at North Carolina State University where he was awarded the Poultry Science Association Research Award. After leaving NCSU, Dr. Thaxton co-founded Embrex, Inc

After he felt his role at Embrex had been completed, he returned home to Starkville and joined the faculty of the Poultry Science Department at MSU. Dr. Thaxton earned the University Alumni Association's Research Award and was elected a Fellow in the Poultry Science Association, the highest honor awarded to poultry scientists. He is also known worldwide for his expertise in stress in birds. He trained hundreds of students including 24 graduate students and four postdoctoral fellows. He was inducted into the National Poultry Hall of Fame in 2010.

2009 Van R. Bowman Carthage Choctaw Maid Farms, Green Acre Farms, Sanderson Farms, Peco
Van  R. Bowman

Van Bowman, was active in the poultry industry for more than 40 years. He worked first with Arbor Acres Farms, a primary breeder company. He has also served in several capacities with Choctaw Maid Farms, Green Acre Farms, Sanderson Farms, and retired from Peco Farms.

Van Ray, as he is known, was involved with the Mississippi Poultry Association for 30 years. He served on the MPA Board of Directors for more than 20 years, including two terms as Chairman of the Board, in 1993 and 2001. He was instrumental in setting up the MPA Grower Advisory Committee.

In addition to his long list of accomplishments and successes in the Mississippi poultry industry, Mr. Bowman served on the Mississippi Board of Animal Health, Department of Poultry Science Advisory Board and impacted the lives of many poultry science graduates.

2007 Dr. Wallace Morgan Starkville Miss. State University
Dr. Wallace Morgan

Dr. Morgan, graduated from Starkville High School and went on to complete three degrees at Mississippi State University including his Ph.D. in Animal Physiology in 1970. After receiving his Ph.D., he worked for four years at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and then accepted a faculty position in the Poultry Science Department at North Carolina State University.

In 1980, Dr. Morgan returned to MSU to teach and conduct research in the Poultry Science Department. In 1987, he was named Head of the Poultry Science Department and served 20 years in that position, retiring in 2007. In a 2012 interview on the history of the poultry industry, he said of MSU's impact 'I would say the largest impact that we've had has come through the students that have come through here. Many have become real leaders and developers of the industry.'

He received four teaching and advising awards at MSU, and is the author or co-author of more than 80 research publications and abstracts.

2004 Denny Hickman Tuscaloosa, AL Peco Foods
Denny Hickman

From the time he could walk, Denny Hickman was working alongside his father, Herman Hickman who founded Peco Foods in 1937. Born with a natural curiosity about how things work, he learned to fly before he could drive.

After graduating from Gordo, Ala. High School, he attended Georgia Tech, where he honed his skills in structural design, process flows and layouts. After graduation, he brought those skills back to Peco during a time of expansion for the company. He took over as chairman of the company after his father's death in 1987.

During the 1990s, as chairman, Denny grew Peco dramatically by acquiring four new processing complexes in Mississippi, making it a major presence in the state's poultry industry. Peco became the 13th largest poultry companies in the nation during his tenure.

Denny has served on the board of directors of Southern Hens and was active with the National Chicken Council.

2003 Dr. Reagan Sadler Sturgis Miss.State University, Central Industries
Dr. Reagan Sadler

Dr. Reagan Sadler has been battling poultry diseases since he was a student at Mississippi State University. He has been a professor, a consultant, and a lab director since he graduated from Auburn University with his Ph.D. in 1965 with a major in poultry diseases and parasites. He earned his B.S. and M.S. from MSU where he received the McCarty and the Ralston Purina scholarships.

Dr. Sadler was for 33 years, 1967-2000, the director of the laboratory at Central Industries where he worked with all the state's poultry companies doing chemical and microbological analysis. He then worked for the next decade full-time, then part-time at the MSU Diagnostic Lab. He worked as a consultant for Eli Lilly and Phibro Animal Health. He has taught in the Poultry Science Department and in the College of Veterinary Medicine at MSU focusing on poultry diseases.

He is a member of the Poultry Science Association, the World Poultry Association, the American Association of Avian Pathologists and he was chairman of the MPA Research committee for 30 years in addition to serving on the committee that planned the annual MPA Poultry Management School for 41 years.

2002 Joe Sanderson, Jr. Laurel Sanderson Farms
Joe Sanderson, Jr.

As current Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Sanderson Farms Inc., Joe F. Sanderson, Jr. is keenly aligned with his family' legacy in the poultry industry. Sanderson Farms has grown significantly from the family-owned feed and seed store established in 1947 by Joe F. Sanderson, Jr.'s grandfather, D.R. Sanderson, along with his father, Joe F. Sanderson, Sr., and uncle, Dewey Sanderson.

Now the third generation Sanderson to lead the company, Joe F. Sanderson, Jr. has built the company into the third largest poultry producer in the nation. With over $2.8 billion in annual sales and a weekly processing capacity of more than 10.6 million chickens, Sanderson has 11 processing plants, nine hatcheries, eight feed mills and prepared foods division.

A graduate of Laurel High School and Millsaps College, Joe F. Sanderson, Jr. began his career with Sanderson Farms in 1969 when he returned to join the family-owned business. Throughout his 48-year tenure in the poultry business, Sanderson has been actively involved in MPA, Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Business and Industry Political Education Committee, National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.

Sanderson has been active in several community and civic groups including the Eudora Welty Foundation, Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Salvation Army, United Way, Laurel Chamber of Commerce and the Mississippi Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

1995 Dr. Elbert Day Starkville Mississippi State University, consultant
Dr. Elbert Day

A native of Alabama and a graduate of Auburn University, Dr. Day joined the poultry science department at Mississippi State University as an assistant professor in 1956. Dr. Day was promoted to associate professor in 1958 and to professor in 1961.

As a highly productive scientist during the middle years of expansion of poultry research, he provided the Mississippi poultry industry with fundamental and applied information related to nutrition of broilers, turkeys, and laying hens, a breadth of expertise that is uncommon today. Dr. Day's research ranged from vitamin and mineral requirements to biological values of various amino acids and unidentified growth factors to economic analyses of poultry diets to composition of eggs and blood plasma. One of the main contributions from his research was the concept of high-energy diets for broilers and he worked closely with the Mississippi poultry industry to perfect the practice. For many years after he introduced computerized least cost formulation, he maintained this effort for the MS poultry industry.

1994 Marshall Durbin, Jr. Birmingham, AL Marshall Durbin, Jr.
Marshall Durbin, Jr.

Marshall Durbin, Jr. had been learning the family business since he was 12. After his graduation from college in 1956, he began to provide the leadership and direction the Alabama-based company would need. During this time, the company was processing around 40 million chickens a year.

In 1973, he spearheaded the acquisition of four Mississippi poultry firms; Canton Poultry, Inc. and the Carthage-based Leake County Milling Company, Inc., Leake County Hatchery, Inc. and Leake County Trucking Company, Inc. These acquisitions boosted company production to 1.22 million birds per week.

In 1974, the company grew again, with a new feed mill, complex office and garage being built in Waynesboro, while a 285,000 bird per week processing plant was opened in Canton. The company increased its attention on quality when it became one of the first poultry companies in the nation to establish a science and technology center. Located in Jackson, the lab was dedicated to product safety and consumer health and was a significant investment for the company.

Marshall Durbin, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala. was sold to MarJac Poultry in 2014.

1992 John M. Rogers, Sr. Morton B.C. Rogers
John M. Rogers, Sr.

John Rogers was born in Jackson, MS to Bennie Clyde Rogers, Sr. and Mildred Vignes Sanders.

He was raised in Morton and graduated from Morton High School in 1947. He received a B.S. degree in finance and marketing from Mississippi College in 1951. He attended the graduate school of business at Tulane University.

After graduation, he returned home to help his father at B.C. Rogers Poultry. Following his father's death, he became president of B.C. Rogers Poultry. During his career at B.C. Rogers Poultry, he had multiple business ventures including E&R Sunflower Grocery stores and Rogers & Shipp Department Store. John was a partner in many family businesses including B.C. Rogers Oil Company, Rogers Farms, and B.C. Rogers Construction Company.

1990 Odell Johnson Laurel Sanderson Farms
Dr. Wallace Morgan

Joseph Odell Johnson was born and raised in Jasper County, dropping out of high school at age 17 to join the Navy where he served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He attended Jones County Junior College and got a degree from Mississippi State University in 1950.

He taught Vocational Technical classes in the West Lincoln and Sandersville schools before taking a job as a broiler service man with Sanderson Farms. From 1957-1992, he devoted his life to building the organization serving as director of processing, production, vice president of operations, and was elected to the Board of Directors and President and Chief Operating Officer. His last capacity was Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

He also served on the boards of directors of regional and national poultry associations. He was chairman of the MPA Board of Directors in 1977-78.

1989 Jim Buck Ross Pelahatchie Miss. Dept. of Ag & Commerce
Jim Buck Ross

A 1939 graduate of Mississippi State University, Ross served one term as Mayor of Pelahatchie and one term in the Mississippi Senate before his election as Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce from 1968 until he retired in 1995. He was one of Mississippi's longest serving public officials.

Among his accomplishments as Commissioner of Agriculture were expanding and promoting the catfish and poultry industries in the state and founding the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum in Jackson, that now bears his name.

He served as an ex-officio member of the MPA Board of Directors during his tenure as Commissioner and was a vocal supporter of the growth of the industry.

Commissioner Ross was also a poultry grower for B.C. Rogers.

1988 Tom Sparks Magee McCarty Farms
Tom Sparks

Thomas Wayne Sparks was vice president and general manager of McCarty Farms, Inc. and later Director of McCarty Farms, Inc.

He served as president of the Southeastern Poultry and Egg Association and Chairman of the Mississippi Poultry Association. Other national poultry positions he held included as a member of the Grow-out Committee of the National Broiler Council, on the USDA Advisory Committee on Poultry Health and the National Poultry Improvement Program's Industry Advisory Council. He was chairman of the Mississippi Avian Influenza Task Force.

A graduate of the Morton High School, East Central Junior College and Mississippi State University, he served in the U.S. Army in 1956-58.

1987 Tam Etheridge Carthage R&R Poultry Industries, Poultry Packers, Inc., Choctaw Maid Farms
Tam Etheridge

Tam Ethridge, a retired Rear Admiral in the U.S. Naval Reserve, worked for R&R Poultry Industries, and Poultry Packers, Inc. before becoming President and CEO of Choctaw Maid Farms, Inc. He served on the board of the Mississippi Poultry Association, as president of the U.S. Poultry Export, Inc., and Chair of the National Broiler Council, now known as the National Chicken Council. He was Vice President of Central ByProducts, Ltd., known as Central Industries.

At the time he was nominated, Choctaw Maid had three processing plants, three feed mills and three hatcheries and had over 7 million broilers in production. When Choctaw Maid's new Carthage plant opened in 1977, it was the largest poultry plant in the nation. It went through expansions in the 1990s, with a new feed mill built in Union and new hatcheries in Newton and Walnut Grove. In 2003 Tyson Foods bought Choctaw Maid.

He was involved in numerous economic development organizations in Leake County and statewide, including the Carthage Chamber of Commerce and the Leake County Industrial Development Association, and the Mississippi Economic Council.

1986 Joel E. Shipp Jackson Quaker Oats, Allied Mills, MPA
Joel E. Shipp

Mr. Shipp was president of the Mississippi Poultry Association for 13 years, after serving on the MPA board as a director, vice chairman and Chairman of the Board. He was recognized as 'the driving force behind many programs now in operation within MPA. He is an excellent organizer and an outstanding mediator,' said state Sen. Alan Heflin of Forest, who nominated Shipp for the Hall of Fame. Heflin noted Shipp's 'tireless efforts before the Mississippi Legislature in behalf of the poultry industry.'

Mr. Shipp was a district sales manager for Quaker Oats Co. and Allied Mills before becoming MPA President. He retired as regional sales manager for Quaker Oats Feed Division in 1974 when he came to MPA.

He received the Pegasus Award from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University and served as the President of the Mississippi Executive Secretaries Association, composed of association directors. He was also the president of the Mississippi Highway Users Conference, which played a role in the passage of the 1987 AHEAD four-lane highway construction program.

1985 Joseph Paul Yount Brandon Miss. State University, MPA
Joseph Paul Yount

Mr. Yount was a Colorado native educated in Oklahoma (Oklahoma State A&M, now Oklahoma State University), earning a degree in poultry husbandry/agriculture in 1935. After working with OSU Extension and the Farm Security Administration for a time, he joined Mississippi State University on January 1, 1945. He became Head of the Extension Poultry Department in 1947 and served in that role until his retirement in 1973.

Mr. Yount worked closely with poultry industry leaders to help pave the way for the industry to become the leading farm enterprise in Mississippi. Leaders such as Mr. Adams, Mr. Clements, Mr. Gaddis and Mr. Shipp were among those he worked closely with. Perhaps Mr. Yount's most significant contribution to the Mississippi Poultry Industry was in the close association of his roles as Extension Poultry Department Head (26 years), Extension Poultryman (28 years), and Executive Secretary of the Mississippi Poultry Improvement Association (20+ years). In these three roles, he provided leadership to help make poultry facilities available at the Livestock Sanitary Board Diagnostic Laboratory in Jackson.

1984 Fred L. Gaddis Forest Gaddis Packing Co., Gaddis Farms, Inc., Gaddis Hatcheries, Inc., Gaddis Feed Mill, Little Princess Packing Plant
Fred L. Gaddis

Mr. Gaddis grew up in the Springfield community of Scott County, attended Mississippi State University at the age of 16 and the University of Southern Mississippi before entering the Navy and becoming a pilot. He returned to Scott County in 1947, where he started the Mississippi Broiler Festival.

He built Gaddis Industries, which included Gaddis Packing Company, Gaddis Farms, Inc., Gaddis Hatcheries, Inc., Gaddis Feed Mill, Little Princess Packing Plant, Scott Equity Company and 38 poultry farms. He also organized and built Central By-Products, Ltd. and Farm Fish, Inc., in Belzoni.

Mr. Gaddis served as Mayor of Forest for 32 years spearheading the construction of many new buildings and services. He served as Chairman of the Mississippi Poultry Association.

1982 Hugh Haralson, Jr. Forest Lady Forest Farms
Hugh Haralson, Jr.

Hugh Haralson Jr. was chairman of the Mississippi Poultry Association in 1980-81. He was born in Harperville, where his father operated a grocery store. He graduated from Harperville High school. He attended Millsaps where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball but later graduated from the University of Mississippi.

After graduation, Hugh Haralson worked for Swift and Co. in Meridian and in New Orleans until he and his father formed H.H. Haralson Poultry Company which later added Forest Packing Co., Lady Forest Farms, Haralson Broiler Farms and Central By-Products.

In addition to serving on the MPA Board of Directors, he served on the Scott County School Board and the board of the Pearl River Water Supply District.

1981 W.T. Tramel Raleigh Miss. Board of Animal Health
W.T. Tramel

W.T. (his name, not his initials) Tramel, or T. as he was known to most people, battled poultry diseases as senior poultry epidemiologist for the Livestock Sanitary Board which became the Board of Animal Health, from 1950-1990. He grew up on a Smith County farm, served in U.S. Army from 1942-46 as an artilleryman in the European theatre. He graduated from MSU in 1949 and went to work for the Board in 1950.

He was responsible for blood testing and monitoring for diseases from pollorum to avian influenza. He was deeply involved at the national level in the National Poultry Improvement Program and is credited in one NPIP publication as having proposed more changes to the program in 17 meetings of the NPIP than anyone else. He served on an advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

He was credited with training and certifying many others to do blood testing and so he was responsible for the health of billions of birds throughout his career, personally and through those he trained. At his retirement he was praised by numerous MPA members for protecting the industry in Mississippi and being 'on the leading edge of disease control.'

He won the Mississippi State University Distinguished Service Awards in 1973, given to members of the Alumni Association who go beyond the call of duty in carrying out the work of the Alumni Association through their local chapter, and in so doing bring favorable recognition to the Association and to Mississippi State University.

1980 Dr. Earl C. Walsh Forest Green Acre Farms
Dr. Earl C. Walsh

Dr. Walsh was a dentist. A Rankin County native, he lived in Forest from the late 1940s. He was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Lt. Walsh was a decorated fighter pilot, whose P-51 Mustang was shot down Nov. 6, 1944 over Germany. The June 5, 1945, Clarion Ledger notes he took out three German planes before he ejected. He was held in a prisoner of war camp until he was liberated in May 1945.

Founder and owner of Green Acre Farms, broiler operation in Sebastopol, which eventually became part of Peco Foods. He served on the MPA Board of Directors, and was chairman in 1979-80.

1979 Johhnie K. Jordan Carthage Arbor Acre Farms
Johhnie K. Jordan

Johnnie K. Jordan, a native of Decatur, attended East Central Junior College and was a graduate of Mississippi State University with a BS degree in Agricultural Economics in 1948. He was a veteran of World War II serving in the merchant marine.

Mr. Jordan was married to Kathryn Whitehead of Decatur from 1946 until her death in 1987. Mr. Jordan was a supervisor for the Veterans Farm Program in Newton County before moving to Gulfport, MS to work for Ralston Purina. In 1958, he came to Carthage as general manager of Arbor Acre Farms, a primary breeder company. He retired from the poultry business in 1995.

Mr. Jordan served terms as director, vice chairman, chairman, and treasurer of the Mississippi Poultry Improvement Association, Inc. He was also state vice-president of Southeastern Poultry and Egg Association.

1978 James E. Hill Starkville Miss. State University
James E. Hill

James E. 'Red' Hill came to Mississippi State in 1949 to pursue doctoral studies following the receipt of his BS and MS degrees from Auburn University. The department he joined had become official just three years before and was just coming into its own from its beginnings in 1904 as a strictly service and teaching unit. In 1950, Professor Hill was named Department Head, a position he held until his retirement in 1986. During the 36 years of Professor Hill's leadership, the department grew and flourished. He hired a truly impressive group of poultry scientists, including Ari van Tienhoven, Bruce Glick, Elbert Day, Charles Thomas, Kenneth May, TC Chen, and Wallace Morgan; the cumulative impact of these distinguished scientists and teachers on the poultry industry in Mississippi and beyond is inestimable, in terms of both research findings and personnel development.

Professor Hill conducted active teaching and research programs, co-authoring many papers with members of his faculty, and teaching program. Extension faculty Robert Haynes and Tom Smith joined the department shortly before Professor Hill retired, rounding out the tri-partite Land Grant mission. Under Professor Hill's leadership, the first Master of Science in poultry science was awarded in 1956, and the first PhD in 1958. The poultry research and teaching farm was constructed on 55 acres adjacent to campus between 1950 and 1960, and funding was obtained from the National Science Foundation for the poultry science building, subsequently the Hill Poultry Science Building, in 1966. Professor Hill was a native of Birmingham, Ala.

1977 C.T. Ramzy Carthage R&R Milling, R&R Poultry Industries
C.T. Ramzy

Tal Ramzy was born in Yalobusha County, near Oxford, MS in 1918. Working his way through college, he graduated in 1940 from Mississippi State University; being one of the first students to complete the Institution's Poultry Science School. After graduating he served his country as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II and the Korean Conflict.

After his service, Tal and his wife Earline moved to Carthage, MS in 1946 where he worked as Assistant County Agent. When he needed additional college hours to qualify for that job, he enrolled in the Mississippi College for Women, later joking that he was the first male to attend the all-female school.

In 1948, he and M. D. Reagan formed Leake Produce Company, producer of chicken feed. From this small beginning, Ramzy and Reagan grew their business into R & R Industries, later Choctaw Maid, the third-largest chicken manufacturing plant in Mississippi by 1987, employing over 1,200 workers. A total of five corporations evolved from the small feed business that Tal started in 1948, making him an area pioneer and a Leake County leader in the poultry industry.

Tal retired in 1987 after 39 years in the poultry business, having served as either president or board member of Choctaw Maid, the Mississippi Poultry Association, American Poultry and Hatchery Association, Mississippi Feed and Grain Association, and the Southeastern Poultry and Egg Association

1976 Fred R. Adams, Jr. Jackson Cal-Maine
Fred R. Adams, Jr.

In 1957, Fred R. Adams, Jr. took the first step to starting an enterprise that has become the largest supplier of eggs in the United States. Purchasing a used truck, he delivered feed in rural areas surrounding Jackson. Later that year, Fred started his first chicken farm on leased property and in 1958 began his first commercial layer operation in Mendenhall.

In 1963, the enterprise expanded to build the world's largest egg farm in Edwards, Mississippi. In 1969, Adams Foods, Inc. merged with Dairy Fresh Products Company of California and Maine Egg Farms of Lewiston, ME creating Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., supplying eggs from California to Maine. Since becoming a public company in 1996, Cal-Maine has continued to grow through the acquisition of other egg farms across the country and has maintained its position as the nation's largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs. In 2014, the Company sold more than one billion dozen eggs in one year.

Fred served as Cal-Maine Chief Executive Officer from the formation of the Company in 1969 until October, 2010. He was chairman of the Miss. Poultry Association Board as well of the United Egg Producers.

1975 H.F. McCarty, Jr. Magee McCarty Farms
H.F. McCarty, Jr.

H. F. McCarty Jr., according to his obituary in the New York Times, transformed a feed and seed store into one of the nation's biggest poultry operations, Known as Mac, he was born in Ovett. He graduated from the University of Mississippi, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and earned a master's degree in history at the University of South Carolina.

He left law school in 1947 when his father asked him to join the family feed and seed business and immediately began expanding the business with a second store in Magee. In 1949 he bought a hatchery, and began supplying chicks and feed to farmers in the area.

He left law school in 1947 when his father asked him to join the family feed and seed business and immediately began expanding the business with a second store in Magee. In 1949 he bought a hatchery, and began supplying chicks and feed to farmers in the area.

1974 Joe Frank Sanderson, Sr. Laurel Sanderson Farms
Joe Frank Sanderson, Sr.

In 1951, Joe F. Sanderson, Sr., joined his family's feed and seed store after training in the poultry industry at a Meridian hatchery. The family business in Laurel was started in 1947 by Joe F. Sanderson, Sr.'s father, D.R. Sanderson, and brother, Dewey Sanderson, after operating a family grocery and fresh produce business together for several years in Hazlehurst.

Joe F. Sanderson, Sr. introduced his father and brother to the chicken business by incorporating the sale of baby chicks at the feed and seed store. As time passed, chickens became a popular commodity and after nearly eight years, the family closed the feed and seed store to focus strictly on the chicken business.

Joe F. Sanderson, Sr., along with his father and brother, helped grow the chicken business from the ground up. In 1982, after more than 30 years with the company, Joe F. Sanderson, Sr. was named president of Sanderson Farms, a position he would hold for two years before being named Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.

Under Joe F. Sanderson, Sr.'s leadership, the company acquired a prepared foods division, offered the first public stock offering, and built two new poultry complexes in McComb, Mississippi and College Station, Texas.

1973 Ray G. Purnell Tupelo Purnell's Pride, Purnell's Hatchery
Ray G. Purnell

The first locker plant in Mississippi, according to "A History Of the Meat Packing and Processing Industry In Mississippi" By Robert W. Rogers, Professor of Animal Science (Meats) at MSU, was started in the late 1930's in Tupelo by Mr. R. G. (Ray) Purnell. The name of the company was Quick Frozen Foods, Inc. He noticed that much of the product brought in was poorly prepared and packaged so he began to offer to properly prepare and package the products for freezer storage. For his services, he would charge a processing fee. Many people could not pay the fee so they would give him some of their product (chickens, pork, beans, etc.) to pay for the processing. He would then sell those products to the "city folks" that didn't have fresh farm raised products. In the early 1940's he changed his business to processing only poultry products and changed the name of the company to Purnell's Pride Inc... Purnell's Pride was sold to the Marshall Durbin Co. of Alabama.

1973 B.C. Rogers, Sr. Morton B.C. Rogers
B.C. Rogers, Sr.

The fourth of six children, Mr. Rogers was born in Jonesboro, La. in 1905. He got into the chicken business after ordering Purina feed for his sister's laying hens. He eventually became "The Tonnage King" for Ralston Purina Company for many years. After reading up on raising chickens, he built chicken houses for himself and his neighbors, stocked them with chicks, bought feed and medicine and during the 1930s built a hatchery. During World War II he built a processing plant. He had Rogers' Farms, Inc., B.C. Rogers & Sons, Inc., Rogers Royal Poultry Company as well as many other businesses.

He served as president of the Mississippi Poultry Improvement Association and also as President of the American Poultry and Hatchery Federation. He served as the president of the Mississippi College Board of Trustees where the student union is named in his honor.