By Lynette Cockerell
Gene Beck traded his keys to the door of New Home Cooperative Gin for those of a pickup connected to a travel trailer and set off for the cool pines of Ruidoso, N.M., with his wife and family to begin his retirement on July 1, 2003.
In 1963, Beck, a man with a small family, lost his job with the railroad due to company cutbacks. Recognizing the prosperity of grain elevators on the Texas High Plains, Beck sought and received a job with Producers Grain Corp., a regional grain cooperative in Plainview, Texas.
“I enjoyed working at a regional coop, but I wanted to get more on the producer level,” Beck says. “Even though I knew far more about grain than I did about cotton, I jumped at the chance to accept a bookkeeper position at Littlefield Farmers Cooperative Gin and Elevator in 1966.”
The bookkeeping job at Littlefield Farmers blossomed into a 37-year career in the cotton business. Beck later became the assistant manager at Crosbyton Farmers Coop Gin and eventually managed Hackberry Cooperative Gin, College Avenue Cooperative Gin (now known as Lubbock Cotton Growers) and New Home Cooperative Gin.
Over the course of his career, Beck admits he was involved in just about everything that went on in the cotton business. He served as president of Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council (TACC), president of the Texas Cotton Ginners Association, president of Plains Ginners Association, and president of Plains Coop Managers Association. In addition, he was a delegate to the National Cotton Council, on the retirement committee for a retirement plan utilized by area gins and served on the board of Consolidated Bearing.
A job well done rarely goes unnoticed, and Beck’s producers and peers were more than happy to recognize his accomplishments. Beck was named Cooperative Ginner of the Year by TACC in 2003, received the National Ginner of the Year award in 1996 from the National Cotton Ginners Association, and the Texas Ginner of the Year award in 1993 from the Texas Cotton Ginners Association. He credits the friendliness of West Texas people for his happy and successful career in the cotton industry.
“I grew up in Central California and wound up moving to West Texas when I married a West Texas girl,” Beck recalled. “The people here have been very good to us, and that has been the best part of it all. You’ll find no finer people than those living in West Texas.”
New Home Coop Gin Board President Dahlen Hancock says the board and office staff really enjoyed working with Beck.
“We wish Gene well in his retirement,” says Hancock. “If he puts as much effort and energy into retirement as he did into working in and for the coop system, his days will be filled, and everyone he comes in contact with will be blessed.”