By John Johnson
Hugs and handshakes were abundant at a Feb. 11 retirement reception for O’Donnell Farmers Coop Association Manager Ed “Junior” Follis as he ended a 43-year career in farmer cooperatives. Members, former members, staff, fellow coop gin managers, and industry representatives gathered at the O’Donnell Coop to congratulate Follis and thank him for a job well done.
Follis began his coop career at New Home Coop Gin in 1959. Ten years later, he went to work at O’Donnell Farmers Coop Association and became its manager in 1991. A high point in his career came in 2000 when the Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council named Follis Cooperative Ginner of the Year.
“I am proud to say I never worked a day for an independent gin,” Follis said on Feb. 11 as he greeted visitors who came to wish him well. Now, the worries about weather, crops, labor, government regulations, insurance, and many other issues related to running a gin will be replaced by a lot of fishing and woodworking, two of Follis’ favorite hobbies.