Maxwells inducted into Agriculture Hall of Fame
By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 23, 2010 1:46 PM
News-Argus/Steve Herring The Wayne County-Farm City Banquet included inductions into the Agriculture Hall of Fame. From left are inductees James Louis Maxwell Jr. and Hugh Gordon Maxwell III of Goldsboro Milling Co., and Kathy Smith, who accepted the posthumous award in memory of her husband, Chester Wells "C.W." Smith Jr.
It was an evening of records Monday night for the annual Wayne County Farm-City Banquet. Not only did the event boast its largest crowd ever, close to 250 people, it also was the first time in its 26-year history that two people were inducted into a category of the Wayne County Agriculture Hall of Fame at the same time.
Making that first even more unique is that the two men inducted into the living category are cousins -- James Louis Maxwell Jr. and Hugh Gordon Maxwell III of Goldsboro Milling Co.
The posthumous Agriculture Hall of Fame award was presented in memory of Chester Wells "C.W." Smith Jr. Smith's widow, Kathy, and their daughters, Brandy, Kristy and Holly, accepted the award on behalf of the family.
Also honored was Annie Hatch Grantham of the Grantham community, who received the Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award.
The event was sponsored by the Extension Service, Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and Wayne County Farm Bureau Federation. Jan Archer, producer education and outreach for the North Carolina Pork Council was the speaker. Mrs. Archer, of the Grantham community, and her husband have a swine operation.
She commented on the changes farms have undergone since 1900. The number of farms has drastically decreased and most people no longer have a connection to farming, she said.
However, North Carolina is the second-leading pork-producing state in the nation trailing just slightly behind Iowa. As of Dec. 1, 2008, there were 570,000 hogs in Wayne County, making it the fourth-leading pork-producing county in the state.
The Wayne County Agriculture Hall of Fame was founded in 1984 as a way to honor local residents who have made outstanding contributions to agriculture.
Selection criteria focus on outstanding contributions to agriculture in a managerial, leadership and voluntary capacity and their impact in the community, said Kevin Johnson, Extension agent.
"For 2010, we had an impressive group of nominees," said Johnson, who presented the awards. "An outside selection committee has reviewed the nominees."
Smith, a 1971 graduate of Southern Wayne High School at Dudley, was born and reared on the family farm, Johnson said.
Smith spent his life farming with his family raising cattle, hogs, poultry, tobacco, cucumbers, squash, cabbage and bell peppers. He also operated a seed-cleaning business, a cucumber buying station and Smith Farms Trucking.
Johnson said Smith was active in the community through Zion United Methodist Church and the Pricetown Fire Department where he served as chief and board chairman. He also served for 25 years on the board for Tri-County Electric Membership Corp.
Active with Future Farmers of America, Smith received the national FFA Farmer Award and was a FFA adviser at both Southern Wayne and Spring Creek high schools.
Johnson praised the Maxwells for their "historic contributions" to the county.
"These two men took their grandfather's company, which was started in 1916, and turned it into an internationally known company headquartered in Wayne County," he said.
Louis Maxwell, chairman of Goldsboro Milling Co., is a Navy veteran. He attended Davidson College and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina with a degree in commerce.
He and his wife, the former Mary Ann Jeffreys, have three daughters, Ann, Charlotte and Betty, and one son, Jim. They have seven grandchildren.
Maxwell has received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Tuscarora Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys Scouts of America National Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and is a James E. West Fellow. He is an active member of St. Paul United Methodist Church.
Both of the Maxwells are members of the Wall of Fame of the Wayne County Museum.
Gordon Maxwell, president of Goldsboro Milling, received his two-year degree from Campbell University and his bachelor's degree in poultry science from N.C. State University.
He is married to the former Charlotte Hodges. They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Millie, and three grandchildren.
Maxwell is a member of the board of directors at Campbell University and has received the Alumni Service Award and Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.
Both men have been active in the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and have supported numerous agriculture organization, Johnson said.
They also have supported United Way, the Red Cross, Community Soup Kitchen, Potter's Wheel Ministries and the Salvation Army.
Goldsboro Milling Co. is a member of the N.C. Agribusiness Council and the National Turkey Federation. Both men have received the federation's Lifetime Achievement Award.
The company has been presented the Governor's Award as the Outstanding Agribusiness in North Carolina and has been recognized by the Wayne County Economic Development Commission as Industry of the year.
Goldsboro Milling Co. is a longtime and leading member of the N.C. Poultry Federation where both men have been inducted into the N.C. Poultry Hall of Fame.
"Louis and Gordon Maxwell, together, have spent over 50 years in Wayne County building their business," Johnson said. "There are more than 450 family farms in Wayne County and surrounding counties depending on Goldsboro Milling Co. for a significant part of their livelihoods.
"Goldsboro Milling Co. is the largest fully integrated turkey operation in the world employing over 6,000 associates producing over one billion pounds of turkey products and over 400 million pounds of pork."
The Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award was presented by Betty Gainey, chairman of the Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Committee.
Mrs. Grantham was raised on her family's farm in Dudley.
"My daddy taught me how to drive a tractor when I was about 10 years old," she wrote in her nomination form. "I used to truck tobacco for him. I guess you could say I was born to be a farmer. I really love the land and growing things and I love being outside.
"Farming and family is truly my life. I wish we had more family farms like when I was growing up because I believe it's a healthy and happy environment to raise our children in. I am really glad my grandchildren get to experience life on a farm."
Mrs. Grantham is an active member of Rhodes Friends Church where she is a Sunday school teacher.
"She contributes to the community in many ways," Mrs. Gainey said.