The late William T. “Bill” Lovelady, a long-time West Texas cotton producer and former National Cotton Council (NCC) president who effected a profound, positive influence on the U.S. cotton industry, was honored as the recipient of the 2017 Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award.
The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision, genius and tireless efforts were foremost in the organization of and shaping of the NCC. The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her active business career. The award also recognizes those who exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.
The award was presented to Mr. Lovelady’s wife, Susie, by outgoing NCC Chairman Ronnie Lee on February 11 at the NCC’s 2018 annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas. Also participating in the presentation ceremony were Lovelady’s son, Ty, and daughter, LeAnn.
In presenting the award, Lee noted that during Lovelady’s term as NCC president in 1997, the U.S. cotton industry was enjoying record offtake but profit margins were razor thin. However, the industry had urgent needs and there were many pressing issues being debated by the Council’s Board and various committees.
“Bill Lovelady chaired an industry Strategic Planning Committee that dug into these and other issues,” Lee stated. “Under his leadership, Council leaders were able to avoid divisive resolutions and adopt policy that served all industry segments equitably.”
Among Lovelady’s leadership activities in the NCC were his chairmanship of both the Pink Bollworm Action Committee and the Beltwide Cotton Conference Steering Committee and his service on the Committee for the Advancement of Cotton Steering Committee, the Cotton Leadership Development Committee and the New Finance Plan Steering Committee. He also served as the chairman of the NCC’s Producer Steering Committee (now known as the American Cotton Producers).
Lovelady was a past president of the Texas Association of Cotton Producer Organizations. He had been the president of the El Paso Valley Cotton Producers Association, a director of the Southwest Irrigated Cotton Growers and a director of Valley Gin Company in Tornillo. He served as a director of Supima from 1998-2013 and was Supima’s chairman from 2001-2004. He also had been a director of First National Bank in El Paso and more recently, West Star Bank.
Lovelady began farming cotton in 1973 in the Tornillo, Texas, area, following graduation from the University of Texas, El Paso, with a degree in journalism. He had been a lay leader and president of the Administrative Board for the First Methodist Church in Fabens.
Among Lovelady’s many honors were: the Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Agriculturalist from Texas Tech University, the Texas A&M Distinguished Texan in Agriculture Award, and the 2016 High Cotton Award for the Southwest. In 2010, the NCC officers him as the 24th recipient of the Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award.
Previous Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award recipients were Duke Kimbrell, a Gastonia, N.C. textile manufacturer; William Garrard, first general manager of Greenwood, Miss.-based Staplcotn Cooperative; Sykes Martin, a Courtland, Ala., producer; Walter Montgomery, Sr., a Spartanburg, S.C., textile manufacturer; William Rhea Blake, a former NCC executive vice president, Memphis, Tenn.; Roger Malkin, long-time chairman/CEO of Delta and Pine Land, Scott, Miss.; former NCC presidents, George C. Cortright, Jr., a Rolling Fork, Miss., producer; Jack Hamilton, a Lake Providence, La., producer/ginner/warehouseman; Lon Mann, a Marianna, Ark., ginner; Jack McDonald, a Decatur, Ill., cottonseed crusher; Jack Stone, a Stratford, Calif., producer; Charles Youngker, a Buckeye, Ariz., producer; W.L. “Billy” Carter, Jr., of Scotland Neck, N.C., who chaired the American Cotton Producers and served as NCC secretary-treasurer; former NCC chairman James E. Echols, a Memphis, Tenn., merchant; and Charlie Owen, an Arizona ginner.