Five men who have made significant contributions to Alabama agriculture were honored by the Auburn University (AU) Agricultural Alumni Association during its annual banquet and awards program Feb. 22 in Auburn.Three of the honorees — James E. Brady Jr., Dr. Dale L. Huffman and James T. Pursell Sr. — were inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Honor, while Thomas F. Burnside Jr. and Hanchey E. Logue Sr. were honored posthumously with Pioneer Awards.”These men not only excelled in their individual careers, they planted seeds that still bear fruit today,” said outgoing Ag Alumni President Jeff Helms. “Like all true pioneers, they laid the foundation for agricultural organizations, companies and institutions that still serve rural residents today.”A native of Perry County, Brady served in the U.S. Air Force before earning a degree in agronomy from Auburn University in 1961. He returned to the family dairy farm where he expanded the operation from seven cows to a milking herd of 250 registered Holsteins. He later diversified into catfish production.Throughout his farming career, Brady was involved in many farm and civic organizations, including the Alabama Farmers Federation. He was elected chairman of the Alabama Young Farmers Committee and went on to become chairman at the national level. Among Brady’s honors are the Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family and the Farm Analysis Association’s Master Farm Manager awards.
Huffman grew up on a dairy farm in New York state. After serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, Huffman graduated from Cornell University and earned master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Florida.He joined the Auburn University faculty in 1963. While at Auburn, Huffman earned two patents for beef and pork products and conducted research that led to the development of the McRib sandwich and the McLean Deluxe low-fat beef patty, both marketed by McDonald’s.Huffman’s honors include the Progressive Farmer Man of the Year, the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Service to Agriculture Award and awards from the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Meat Science Association. A native of Talladega County, Pursell returned to Sylacauga to work in his father-in-law’s fertilizer business after graduating from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API, now Auburn University) and serving in the Air Force during the Korean War. Pursell was in charge of marketing Parker Fertilizer’s Sta-Green product. In 1964, Pursell became president of the company.By 1991, the company was manufacturing POLYON™, a patented ultra-thin-plastic-coated fertilizer. Pursell went on to establish FarmLinks in 2001, which was the world’s first research and demonstration golf course. Pursell served as chairman of the Alabama Ethics Commission. Honors include the Alabama Farm-City Free Enterprise Award and top awards from the Southern Nurserymen’s Association.Burnside, a former Randolph County Farmers Federation director, graduated from API in 1956. He worked as an Extension agent for 35 years, during which he led 4-H programs and helped establish the Junior Cattlemen’s Association. After retirement, Burnside served on the Federation’s State Meat Goat and Sheep Committee. He had a 44-year perfect-attendance record in the Wedowee Kiwanis Club and held offices in the Alabama Association of County Agricultural Agents and Alabama Association of Extension 4-H Agents. Burnside passed away on Oct. 28, 2005. The Pioneer Award was accepted by his wife, Billy Ruth Sandley Burnside.Like Burnside, Logue devoted his life to serving young people through the 4-H Club. A 1932 graduate of API, Logue was named state 4-H Club leader in 1948, a position he held for more than 22 years.Under his leadership, 4-H in Alabama upgraded its publications from four outdated brochures to more than 360. During his career, Logue was a positive influence on countless boys and girls. In 1969, he received the Gold Key citation from the federal Extension Service. Logue passed away on Jan. 17, 1995. His son, John, accepted the Pioneer Award on his behalf.