It has been said that Dr. Fred Bourland likely understands the cotton plant and how it grows better than any other cotton breeder. This understanding has enabled him to develop a number of plant measurements and techniques, many of which are now being used by other cotton breeders as well as cotton scientists in other disciplines. In addition to developing and releasing more than 80 cotton lines (germplasms and cultivars), Bourland has also cultivated interest and excellence among his students at universities in Arkansas and Mississippi. Notable among Bourland’s developments is combining the desirable characteristics of high yield and early maturity with high quality fiber.
North Carolina cotton grower David Burns is an acknowledged leader in the cotton industry. Burns served as Cotton Board Chairman during the integration of importers into the Cotton Research and Promotion Program. Burns’ leadership fostered an easy assimilation of importers onto the Board and maintained a focus on the common goals of the dual constituency. Burns also served as President, Cotton Council International. Burns is noted for his stewardship at a transitional period in the history of U.S. cotton. At a time when the U.S. textile industry was in decline, Burns and the cotton leadership realized the importance of U.S. cotton as an export to emerging textile hubs around the world, and the vital role importers and growers alike would play in the evolution of U.S. cotton consumption around the world.
Jim Hansen is a California cotton grower and cotton industry leader. Hansen is the only person to have served as Chairman for both the Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated boards of directors. During his tenure as Cotton Incorporated Chairman, the company opened what was called at the time “the world’s most advanced cotton research facility.” Hansen also served as Chairman for Supima and is actively involved in National Cotton Council board activities in support of U.S. cotton growers and ginners. A champion of the work undertaken by Cotton Incorporated, Hansen helped strengthen the resolve of Cotton Incorporated staff at a time when the U.S. textile industry was in decline.
Dr. Preston Sasser, a man whom peers refer to as "a professional of the highest order," made numerous contributions to the cotton industry over his thirty-year tenure at Cotton Incorporated. Acknowledged as one of the cotton industry’s leading research experts, Sasser’s contributions were instrumental in solving a wide range of cotton problems, from health issues to developing cotton-testing technology. Sasser was a member of the engineering team that created what eventually became known as High Volume Instrument (HVI) testing; led an extensive program of investigative research covering issues relating to worker exposure to cotton dust; and served on the in-house team that designed and built Cotton Incorporated’s World Headquarters and research facility in Cary, NC.
Hugh Summerville, a sixth-generation cotton farmer from Aliceville, AL, has a storied history of leadership within the cotton community. During his tenure as Cotton Incorporated Chairman, Summerville elevated the participation of the board of directors and fostered the strong relationship between the Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated that still exists today. Summerville was also a champion of the Cotton Incorporated World Headquarters and was one of the members of the exploratory committee charged with finding a new location for the Cotton Incorporated offices and laboratories. The decision to build a new Cotton Incorporated facility stemmed from a flood in the aftermath of Hurricane Fran in September 1996.
The Cotton Research and Promotion Hall of Fame recognizes and honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the Cotton Research & Promotion Program and to the cotton industry in general.
Morgan Nelson, also known as “Mr. Cotton” in his home state of New Mexico, is a long-time cotton grower and one of the first directors of Cotton Incorporated. In the early days of the organization, some growers were skeptical that a dedicated research and promotion company could add value to their livelihoods. Nelson is honored for his instrumental role in galvanizing and maintaining grower support of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program and Cotton Incorporated, as well as shaping the direction of the company’s initiatives and activities.
J. Dukes Wooters
New York, NY
J. Dukes Wooters, Jr., of New Canaan, CT, passed in January of 2015, but left an enduring legacy for the cotton industry. As the first president of Cotton Incorporated, Wooters was the first marketer to promote a commodity directly to consumers. Along with establishing the organizational structure and early activities of Cotton Incorporated, Wooters also introduced the Seal of Cotton as a brand icon for products containing cotton. More than forty years after its introduction, the Seal of Cotton is among the most widely recognized American brand icons. Wooters is honored for his innovative marketing of cotton, his leadership in, and the enduring value of the Seal of Cotton.
Marshall Grant is a North Carolina cotton-grower who realized early on how devastating the boll weevil infestation could be to the U.S. cotton industry. Known as Mr. Boll Weevil, Grant is honored for his vision and integral role in developing and advocating the Boll Weevil Eradication Program. The program is among the most successful in the history of the United States Department of Agriculture. It not only removed one of the greatest threats to the U.S. cotton industry, but helped advance the sustainable gains that U.S. cotton growers continue to achieve.
Fred Starrh, a cotton grower from California, embodies the strong leadership that has helped to distinguish the U.S. cotton industry. Starrh has served the industry in various leadership roles over the years, including being past Chairman of both Cotton Incorporated and Cotton Council International. Starrh is honored for his role in integrating the sales activities of CCI with the textile innovation and support services of Cotton Incorporated to promote the use of U.S. cotton in overseas markets.
College Station, TX
Professor Lambert Wilkes of College Station, Texas, passed in April of 2013, but left an indelible mark on the U.S. cotton industry. Wilkes is honored for the work that he and his team at Texas A&M University did in developing the cotton module builder, which some have said was the most significant advancement in cotton efficiency since Eli Whitney introduced the cotton gin. In 2000, the state of Texas acknowledged the module builder as one of the four most significant economic achievements of the 1970s, which also included the opening of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and the launch of Southwest Airlines.