Cotton Achievement Award Honors Charlie Owen
The late Charles C. Owen, an Arizona ginner whose career was marked by his strong desire to advance the U.S. cotton industry through quality preservation, research, employee education and outreach to U.S. cotton’s customers, is the recipient of the 2016 Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The late Charles C. Owen, an Arizona ginner whose career was marked by his strong desire to advance the U.S. cotton industry through quality preservation, research, employee education and outreach to U.S. cotton’s customers, is the recipient of the 2016 Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented on February 12 at the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) 2017 annual meeting in Dallas, Texas.
In presenting the award to Mr. Owen’s wife, Mary, outgoing NCC Chairman Shane Stephens quoted from one of Owen’s nomination letters saying, “Charlie’s focus was the advancement of the cotton industry throughout his entire career.” Also participating in the presentation were Mr. Owen’s daughter, Leevon Guerithault, and grandsons, Paul Lovelis and Daniel Guerithault.
The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision, genius and tireless efforts were foremost in the organization of and shaping of the NCC. The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her active business career. The award also recognizes those who exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.
Owen began in the cotton ginning business in the mid-1950s with Cotton Producers Association (CPA) in Phoenix. That organization actually was a Georgia marketing cooperative which had expanded into Arizona to take part in that state’s flourishing cotton industry. After working for a number of years for CPA which had built gins in the Arizona towns of Marana and Santa Rita, Owen joined Southside Gin in Coolidge, which he managed from 1971-1978.
Owen next worked as a salesman with Lummus Corporation from 1978-85 before being hired to manage the Glenbar Gin in Pima, Arizona – a facility he had sold to the current owners after helping to build it three years before. Owen served as Glenbar’s general manager and also became a stockholder, and in 1996, he bought the gin from the remaining stockholders.
Owen quickly became involved in the Arizona Cotton Ginners Association (ACGA), the National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA) and the National Cotton Council (NCC). He was on ACGA’s Board for many years and served as its president in 1990-91. He was NCGA’s president in 1998-99 and was as a NCC delegate for many years before serving as a NCC director from 1998-2001 and as the NCC’s ginner vice president from 2004-2009.
Owen was recognized by his peers in 1989 as the NCGA’s National Cotton Ginner of the Year. In 2011, he received the NCC’s Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award and in 2016, the NCGA honored his memory when it renamed its long-standing service award the Charles C. Owen Distinguished Service Award.
Among examples of Owen’s contributions to the industry’s health were his:
- idea and work behind the scenes that resulted in the successful quality video series funded by John Deere that covered every step of cotton production, harvesting, ginning and warehousing;
- collaboration with the USDA ginning laboratory in Mesilla Park, N.M., that was instrumental in the development and commercial introduction of high speed roller ginning;
- stellar support for the Western Ginners School and his sharing at that and the other two schools of his experience by teaching gin management courses; and
- leadership in the NCGA’s mill communications program, which fostered open dialogue between the ginning segment and domestic textile industry and later his efforts to expand that communication with overseas U.S. cotton textile customers.
Previous Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award recipients were Duke Kimbrell, a Gastonia, N.C. textile manufacturer; William Garrard, first general manager of Greenwood, Miss.-based Staplcotn Cooperative; Sykes Martin, a Courtland, Ala., producer; Walter Montgomery, Sr., a Spartanburg, S.C., textile manufacturer; William Rhea Blake, a former NCC executive vice president; Roger Malkin, long-time chairman/CEO of Delta and Pine Land, Scott, Miss.; former NCC presidents, George C. Cortright, Jr., a Rolling Fork, Miss., producer; Jack Hamilton, a Lake Providence, La., producer/ginner/warehouseman; Lon Mann, a Marianna, Ark., ginner; Jack McDonald, a Decatur, Ill., cottonseed crusher; Jack Stone, a Stratford, Calif., producer; Charles Youngker, a Buckeye, Ariz., producer; W.L. “Billy” Carter, Jr., of Scotland Neck, N.C., who chaired the American Cotton Producers and served as NCC secretary-treasurer; and former NCC chairman James E. Echols, a Memphis, Tenn., merchant.