During the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation’s 98th annual convention at Franklin’s Cool Springs Marriott, five individuals were recognized for going above and beyond in their volunteer spirit to the Tennessee Farm Bureau with the Distinguished Service Award.
“Our organization wouldn’t be what it is today without the leadership, direction and countless hours of dedication that came from these volunteer leaders,” said Tennessee Farm Bureau President Jeff Aiken. “We need to recognize individuals who devote so much to ensure our organization succeeds and these five individuals are certainly deserving of this honor.”
Jimmy Stanford of Madison County was the recipient from District I. The Stanford’s have always had cotton, corn, soybeans, cattle and hay. Jimmy was active in 4-H and FFA, and attended Beech Bluff High School where he graduated in 1961. He briefly attended the University of Tennessee at Martin, but knew he was always going to farm. Jimmy and his wife, Linda, were married in June of 1966. Along with the farm, the family purchased R & J Feed and Supply in 1987 and today the business continues to thrive. Mr. Stanford has continued serving the community by being active on several organizations, including the Soil Conservation District, the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board, the 4-H Alumni and his dedication to his church, the East Union Baptist, has been at the forefront of his life. Mr. Stanford has also served the Farm Bureau almost religious like. He remembers going to the membership BBQs when he was a boy and became active in the Young Farmers & Homemakers in the late 1950’s. Both Jimmy and Linda served on the state Young Farmer committee and helped to usher in the beginning of the Young Farmer Summer Conference. Jimmy was named as the state Young Farmer of the Year in 1971, and he’s been active with the Madison County board of directors for more than 50 years, including 19 years as president.
David Womack of Coffee County was the recipient from District II. Growing up on the family farm, he remembers plowing corn with horses and mules before the family received their first tractor. He became active in the 4-H club and was president of his Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter at Shelbyville Central High School where he would graduate in 1950. David and his wife, Betty Joy, have been on the family farm ever since, except for his time in the Air Force in the mid-1950s. They raised their three children on the farm and today they have two grandchildren. The Womack’s have always remained active with their church, where Mr. Womack has served as deacon for several years. Today they attend Fairlane Church of Christ. Besides his church, Mr. Womack has always been active in several other organizations including the Bedford Historical Society, the Jaycees where he was young farmer of the year, the Bedford Farmers Coop board, the local livestock association and most notably, the Tennessee Soybean Promotion board, the United Soybean Board, a founding director of the National Biodiesel Board, and he received the lifetime achievement award from the American Soybean Association. His service to Farm Bureau began in 1956 and he has served for many years on the county board of directors as vice president and president.
Wilma Anderson of Coffee County was the recipient from District III. She graduated from Central High School in Manchester in 1956. She attended Draughons Business College and then started office work at the Star Union pajama factory. But it was a Farm Bureau membership drive in the summer of 56 that started her long time connection to the organization, but more importantly, to the love of her life, a local farmer – Austin Anderson. The Andersons were married on August 10th, 1957. They had four children raised on the farm and now there are six grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. The Anderson’s continued building their farming operation where they had row crops, tobacco and cattle. Mrs. Anderson has worked for many years as a 4-H volunteer and since those early days with Young Farmers & Homemakers, she’s been a dedicated leader with Farm Bureau and she’s still active with the Farm Bureau Women today. Mrs. Wilma Anderson has spent her life on the farm and helping the needs of others. And because of her dedication and commitment to her family and Farm Bureau, she was honored with the Distinguished Service award.
Jack Looney of Cumberland County was the recipient from District IV. He grew up in the Homestead Community of Cumberland County where his father, as an Extension agent, was instrumental in getting local farmers started in growing cash crops. So of course, young Jack was always active in the 4-H Club. Jack graduated from Cumberland County High School in 1955 and went on to graduate from UT Knoxville with an animal science degree in 1959. He started working as a 4-H Extension Agent in Washington County and then went to work for the Dobson Hicks seed company in Nashville for a few years and later Asgrow Seed. He also served six years in the Air National Guard. Jack and his wife, Shirley, had one child and today there are three grandchildren. In the fall of 1972, they decided to move back to Cumberland County and farm full time with his brother Tom, where they were successful in a beef cattle operation along with tobacco, green beans, squash and hay. Today, the farming operation has scaled back, but they still maintain a beef herd. Unfortunately, Mrs. Looney passed away in 2001 after battling cancer. Mr. Looney has been active in the community serving on and recognized as an outstanding farmer by various organizations. Mr. Looney has been a Farm Bureau member for the more than 60 years, and he has served for 43 years on the Cumberland County board of directors where he was board secretary for 30 years.
Jim Wells of Hawkins County was the recipient from District V. He grew up on his family’s farm and was an active 4-Her and dedicated FFA member. After graduating from Rogersville High School in 1963, Jim would then go to the University of Tennessee where he would obtain his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and his masters and EDS. In 1967, Jim began his extraordinary career as an agriculture teacher at his alma mater. But it was during his sophomore year in college when he would meet his future wife, the former Brenda Arnwine of Knoxville. Jim and Brenda married on July 9, 1966 and they had two children. Tragically their daughter and son-in-law were killed in a car accident in 2001, but they continued raising their eleven-year-old granddaughter, and today enjoy their time with their two great grandchildren. Mr. Wells retired from teaching in 2006, but has continued to be a strong advocate for the FFA. He’s also been active with the Hawkins County Cattleman’s Association, the Hawkins County Coop board, the county equalization board, and his service to Farm Bureau is now more than 50 years – 23 years on the board of directors, including the past eights years as president.
“Each of these individuals are to be commended for devoting so much of their lives to the Farm Bureau mission of working to improve agriculture and rural life in Tennessee,” said Aiken.