Alphonse (Al) DeWitte, an innovator in Chatham-Kent’s agricultural industry, passed away in Chatham on Feb. 11. He was 91.
Al was the co-founder of Kent County Fertilizers and subsequently Southwest Ag Partners Inc. He was inducted into the Kent Agriculture Hall of Fame in recognition of an innovative fertilizer bulk blending process which has now become the industry norm.
According to his biography on the Hall of Fame website, the history of the modernization of agricultural fertilizer processing, mixing, and delivery in Kent County would not have occurred as rapidly and successfully had it not been for the commitment and expertise of three prominent people in the early 1960s. The team of Al DeWitte of Blenheim, Maurice Neutens of Ridgetown and Terry Youlton of Ridgetown, was the driving force in what would become a long- standing industry giant known as Kent County Fertilizers.
Al was commissioned by the Fertilizer Institute of Ontario to co-author the book, “The Next Best Thing to Rain”, which outlined the first 100 years of the fertilizer industry in Ontario. This book was published in 2000 and is the most complete history of the fertilizer industry in Ontario, and a testament of the pioneers that built the Ontario business.
In the community, Al was church organist, choir director, and composer at St. Mary’s Parish in Blenheim for 60 years, and also wrote a history book of St. Mary’s Parish. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and served as a Grand Knight, Council 1412, Ontario State Deputy, Canadian Supreme Director and Editor of Knights of Columbus State Bulletin (1986 – 1996).
The funeral service for Mr. DeWitte was held on Feb. 17.