From the Chatham Daily News:
The Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame honoured a number of local men and women Tuesday who have contributed to the advancement of agriculture.
The six inductees have impacted their community through education, safety, the promotion of agriculture, while shaping the way agriculture business moved forward, both locally and on a national scale.
Brian Fox, who was honoured post-humously, was recognized for his contribution to the sugar beet industry in Chatham-Kent.
“The future he first saw was another way to diversify farming income for local farmers including himself,” said his son Jason Fox. “It’s really a cornerstone for our operation and a lot of people’s.”
When Michigan Sugar Company was looking to expand their acreage 20 years ago, Fox was part of the group who built a relationship with the company and secured contracts for area farmers.
“I think it’s more important now with some of the tomatoes going away and processing vegetables under pressure that we have this additional revenue generator,” said Fox. “He would have been very appreciative of the award… recognizing all the time and effort he, and a lot of other people, put into the sugar beet industry.”
Phil and Janet Richards were both acknowledged for their commitment on boards and moving farm safety into the forefront, respectively. “I’m just glad I can still be a help to the industry,” said Phil Richards, who still serves on several boards. “Being recognized by your peers is an honour.” Janet Richards said the induction made all those long drives to Guelph at night and pushing for proactive farm safety worthwhile.
Ken Stevenson, who did research in soil and taught soil management at the Western Ontario Agricultural School, now known as the Ridgetown Campus of the University of Guelph, for 35 years was honoured to be acknowledged. “I feel very humbled really,” he said. “Especially with the excellent people going in. It’s just icing on the cake after a 35-year career.” Stevenson said he’s still impressed when he meets Ridgetown grads he taught making a difference in the industry. “It’s very gratifying,” he said.
Bill Weaver said the honour was particularly poignant for him. “I think it’s magnified a little bit because my dad was honoured with this a few years ago,” said Weaver. “Really, he set the example in so far as getting involved in the community, getting involved in farm groups and I guess I just followed that lead.”
Gordon Leitch, who was born in Ridgetown and went on to found one of the most significant companies in Canadian shipping, was represented by his son Jack, who now lives in Toronto. Jack Leitch said his father built the grain shipping company up after learning the trade in Manitoba before moving to Toronto. “We just sold the last pieces of it within the past six months or so,” said Leitch, who is in his 90s. “ I guess we’d gone up as far as we could go.” Leitch said his father never forgot his roots, naming two ships after Ridgetown and he would be honoured by the recognition. “I think so much of him,” said Leitch of accepting the honour on behalf of his father. “It’s nice to think back on him. He would have been delighted.”