Federation Mourns Loss of Legendary Leader
By Debra Davis
Alabama Farmers Federation former executive director John H. Dorrill Jr., died Jan. 28 at his home in Montgomery. He was 90.
“The Alabama Farmers Federation joins Mr. Dorrill’s family in mourning the loss of this legendary leader who throughout his life never lost his agricultural roots,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “I’m not sure we’ll ever know the full impact he had on Alabama agriculture, but there is no doubt farming in Alabama would not be what it is today without the work and dedication of John Dorrill.”
Dorrill was a Pike County native whose father was a sharecropper. He graduated from Pike County High School. After attending Troy State University, he served two years in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps during the Korean War. When he returned to Alabama, Dorrill enrolled at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University (AU), where he earned a degree in agricultural economics.
Dorrill began his career at the Federation in June 1955 as an area organization director. He soon became a lobbyist for the organization and assistant to then-president J.D. Hays. He later served as Federation executive director under former president Goodwyn Myrick, a position he held until retiring in 1998.
In 2003, Dorrill received the Federation’s Special Service To Agriculture Award — the highest award given by the state’s largest farm organization. In 2006, he was inducted into AU Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor.
While serving the Federation, Dorrill helped form the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, the Federation’s Young Farmers Program and ELECT— the Federation's political action committee. His political prowess also helped tackle tough issues like sales tax exemptions on agricultural items, current use tax legislation and the lid bill. Commodity checkoff legislation was written and implemented during his tenure with the Federation, and he helped establish important farm programs such as the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, Dairy Marketing Association and the Alabama Milk Control Board.
After retirement, Dorrill remained active in state, local and federal political issues. He also remained active in the Federation where he served on the organization’s State Wildlife Committee and Forestry Committee. He was Pike County Farmers Federation president for several years and was a Pike County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor.
He served as Alabama TREASURE Forest Association president and Alabama Forestry Council president. He was past chairman of the Alabama and National Farm-City Committees and past district governor of Alabama District Kiwanis International.
Dorrill was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Troy where he attended the Baraca Sunday School Class and was a former teacher of the class.
Dorrill enjoyed spending time with his family at the farm in Pike County. He often shared his farm with others, hosting events such as the Annual Take A Kid Fishing Day in Pike County and tours on his timberland, which is a certified TREASURE Forest.
He is preceded in death by his parents, John H. Dorrill and Robbie Lee Dorrill.
Dorrill is survived by his wife, Carol Anderson Dorrill, and their children John H. Dorrill III (Sonjua), Lee A. Dorrill (Lynn); his daughter, Rachel Dorrill Batrez; and six grandchildren, Haylee, Chloe, Cameron, Collin, Clay and Anna Claire.
Funeral services will be Saturday, Feb. 1, at noon at the First Baptist Church in Troy with Dr. Joe Godfrey officiating. Visitation is from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., prior to the service. Burial will follow in the Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery near Banks.
The family requests memorials be made to the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association Scholarship Fund — ATFA Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL. 36191.