Hilltop Lakes, TX
Dr. William M. “Bill” Lyle has had a revolutionary impact on the cotton industry with the research and development of the Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) system in the 1980s. His contributions as a cotton farmer, agricultural engineer, and scientist are recognized both nationally and internationally. Dr. Lyle has served as a consultant to the United States Congress, John Deere and Company, and the American Society of Agricultural Engineers Water Supply and Conveyance Committee. He has also been the recipient of the John Deere Gold Medal Award (1998), the High Plains Research Foundation’s Agricultural Research Scientist of the Year Award (1981), the Texas Association of Agricultural Consultant Public Servant of the Year Award (1992), and the Secretary of Agriculture Group Research and Extension Award (1994), among others.
Dr. Harold L. “Hal” Lewis (deceased) had a lifelong dedication to agriculture and research, notably in the cotton industry. As Director of Research for Cotton Incorporated (1970-1973), Dr. Lewis was instrumental in the development of the module builder and played a key role in the research program for boll weevil eradication. His experience and knowledge as a plant breeder led him to develop three commercial cotton varieties. Dr. Lewis served as a board member for both the National Cotton Council and the Cotton Board, and was inducted into the Arkansas Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2006. Before his death, he also served as president and general manager of his own business, Scientific Seed Co. and H.L. Lewis Farm and Enterprises.
Lawson “Sykes” Martin (deceased) is recognized for his strong leadership in the cotton industry, having served in organizations on both local and national levels. Mr. Martin had a long career at the National Cotton Council, beginning as a delegate in 1977 and finishing as an Advisor to the Council in 1993. He also held board positions at Cotton Incorporated, Southern Cotton Growers, the American Cottonseed Association, and The Cotton Foundation. In 1987, he was named the National Cotton Farmer of the Year by Cotton Farming Magazine, and was also the recipient of the Alabama Farm of Distinction Award in 1993.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kent Nix is recognized for his long tenure and strong leadership during his time on the Cotton Board, beginning his service as an alternate and transitioning through the ranks before becoming Chairman. His role in ensuring and including the importer segment of the industry was very instrumental to the Program. Nix has also served on the Plains Cotton Growers Board of Directors and the Plains Cotton Improvement Committee.
William A. “Bill” Baxter has served as a board member of Cotton Council International, a member delegate of the National Cotton Council, and as a director and chairman of the Cotton Board. Baxter has also been the recipient of the “Arkansas Cotton Achievement Award,” and was elected into the Arkansas Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1999. Baxter currently serves as President and Operating Officer of Baxter Land Company.
New York, NY
J. Nicholas “Nick” Hahn held several positions at Cotton Incorporated and has the distinction of leading the company twice; as both the second and fourth President and CEO. Hahn built on the marketing legacy of Dukes Wooters, the first President of Cotton Incorporated, and elevated the Company’s marketing efforts to new levels of sophistication.
Lake Providence, LA
Jack Hamilton (deceased) provided many years of leadership and dedication to the industry, having served as Chairman of Cotton Incorporated and Chairman of the National Cotton Council, a director of Cotton Council International, and the President of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association. Hamilton also served as the first President of the Louisiana Cotton & Grain Association, an organization he helped found in 1968.