SWPGA honors manager Ross Wilson ROSS WILSON, manager of the Southwestern Peanut Growers' Association for 44 years, retired early this summer, leaving a legacy of hard work, respect and a peanut industry that's stronger because of his long involvement.

Wilson was honored for his service during the SWPGA annual meeting recently in Wichita Falls, Texas, and sat stoically while a number of peanut farmers, association leaders and government officials paid tribute to his accomplishments.

At times Wilson seemed both embarrassed and pleased by the attention.

He was recognized as the peanut industry's most knowledgeable expert on the complex price support system. He was also credited for helping save the program on several occasions.

Wilson responded to accolades by crediting others for the successes.

"A lot of credit goes to Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico peanut farmers and the research and Extension programs in those states," he said. "And I was fortunate to work with some congressional giants, such as Howell Heflin of Alabama."

He also cited Texas Reps. Larry Combest and Charles Stenholm as champions of the peanut program.

"Without them, the support program would have been swept under the rug," he said. "The 1996 peanut legislation was a weak sister program, but without Senator Heflin and Congressman Stenholm, it would not have been as good as it is.

"I've also had a great staff at the association and tremendous boards of directors. It has been uncanny how directors always put the welfare of the industry up front. They were always unselfish."

Wilson said "integrity, honor, dedication, intelligence and commitment describe the folks who have worked with me."

He says the job is not complete. "There are a number of things that could be done quickly to help the peanut program," he said. "I'm disappointed that those things were not done."