A requiem is a musical composition to commemorate a death. I offer this song of words to honor the memory of O.B. Goolsby Jr., a poultry-industry veteran who passed from this life Monday, Dec. 17, 2007 — three days after suffering a massive stroke while on a hunting trip in south Texas.
Goolsby, who joined Pittsburg, Texas-based Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. in 1969 at its distribution center in nearby Mt. Pleasant, was named the company’s president and chief executive officer in September 2004.
“O.B. was a respected, gifted executive who helped guide Pilgrim’s Pride through a period of historic growth with candor, honesty and a wonderful sense of humor,” Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, senior chairman and co-founder of Pilgrim’s Pride, said. Echoing his father, Ken Pilgrim, chairman, described Goolsby as a respected mentor and a man of the highest ethics and integrity.
“O.B. had a natural ability to communicate with all types of people, whether he was talking to employees on the processing line, customers at large corporations or investors on Wall Street,” Ken Pilgrim said. “He had a way of putting everyone at ease almost immediately after meeting them. Our company would not be where we are today without his firm hand and compassionate spirit.”
George Watts, president of the National Chicken Council (NCC), described Goolsby as “a man of faith, integrity and calm judgment.” Goolsby was NCC secretary-treasurer and a member of its board of directors.
I met Goolsby in 1996, when he was senior vice president and complex manager of Pilgrim’s Pride’s prepared foods division. That same year, the company reached $1 billion in annual sales for the first time. Pilgrim’s Pride was also ranked as No. 5 in broiler production based on its business accomplishments in the United States and Mexico.
By 2003, Goolsby had risen to a top administrative position as president and chief operating officer. That year he discussed with me a business plan to gain market share for his company’s line of chicken and turkey products — the cornerstone being a focus on adding value through research and development programs.
“We’re committed to the fresh chicken business, and we are looking for innovative ways to add value to what has become a commodity,” he said at the time. “Upgrading dark-meat sales options is the biggest opportunity for our industry and this company over the next 10 years.”
Clearly, rising to a top position in a company that has grown into the largest chicken producer in the United States and Puerto Rico and the second-largest producer and seller of chicken in Mexico is no small feat. Goolsby left a professional legacy that included his contribution to that growth.
Our magazine family offers heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and industry colleagues, who surely will miss his vision, wisdom and humanity.