Approximately 120 of the meat industry's best and brightest were on hand to welcome the incoming Class of 2015 Monday evening at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. Five of the new members were on hand to accept their honored place among the legends of the business, each movingly introduced by someone important to them in their personal or professional life.
Bill Buckner, the recently retired president of Cargill Meat Solutions, was introduced by his old friend, John Keating, the new president of Cargill Meat Solutions, who thanked him for his generous mentorship. Mr. Buckner's acceptance speech was well accepted, highlighted by his pithy but perfectly-timed comment, "When I think of pink slime, I think of ABC News and Diane Sawyer.'
C. W. "Bill" McMillan, the retired Vice President of Washington Affairs for the National Cattlemen's Association, one of the co-founders of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and one of the grandest of the grand old men of the industry, was introduced by Graeme Goodsir who spoke of their friendship stretching back over a half century covering some of the most important events of the modern era.
Although Jim Lochner, the retired Chief Operating Officer of Tyson Foods, was unable to attend, his old friend and current CEO of the North American Meat Institute, Barry Carpenter, introduced him by reciting a litany of his accomplishments throughout his storied career. Accepting on behalf of Mr. Lochner was Charles Penry, Tyson's Vice President of Government Relations.
Edward C. Jones (deceased), one of the most honored and honorable men of the industry, and President of Jones Dairy Farm during its most formative years, was warmly introduced from the speaker's podium by Rosemary Mucklow, a member of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame Inaugural Class of 2009, who served as the evening's official hostess and mistress of ceremonies. Extending her hand through several generations of industry leaders, she brought Phillip Jones to the stage to accept on behalf of his grandfather.
Introducing Wolf Ludwig, inducted for his role as founder of two companies: Wolf-tec and WTI, was Dr. James Marsden, the retired Regent's Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Security and Associate Director of the Biosecurity Research Institute located at Kansas State University. Dr. Marsden, a long-time friend and business associate, spoke at length about the achievements of Mr. Ludwig and the personal drive that allowed him to succeed. Accepting the honor, Ludwig spoke emotionally about the need to love what you do in life and to pursue it with passion.
Capping the evening, Dr. Russell Cross, Professor in the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University and also an Inaugural member of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame, introduced Joann Smith honored for her many contributions, especially her groundbreaking role as the first female president of the National Cattlemen's Association. Called the cowboy's greatest friend since the pickup truck, she shared the award with all of the people she was privileged to work with during her storied career. Fittingly, she had to leave the next day to accept her induction into the Cowgirl's Hall of Fame in Texas.
Chuck Jolley, President of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame, thanked the guests for attending and asked them to plan on returning next year to help induct the members of the Class of 2016. Nominations will begin on January 1, 2016 and the new Class will be announced in early June.