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In memory of Mid-South leader: MSU establishes Parsons scholarship

To honor a man who advanced Mississippi agriculture by innovative efforts on his farm and through his work with agricultural education, research and leadership organizations, Mississippi State University is establishing the Rick Parsons Memorial Scholarship.

Mississippi State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has announced that all proceeds from the 2004 annual Mississippi Agriculture Open Golf Tournament will go to fund a $50,000 endowed scholarship in honor and memory of Parsons, a Delta cotton and grain farmer and 1970 graduate of MSU who died unexpectedly at his home in Vance, Miss., Feb. 16

The tournament will be begin at 10 a.m., Aug. 13, on the MSU Golf Course. The format is a four-man scramble with a $1,000 donation per team or $150 for individual players. A portion of the fee is tax deductible. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the $100-a-plate, pre-tournament dinner at MSU on Aug. 12.

“The endowment will be used to provide annual academic awards in perpetuity for deserving students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” says Jud Skelton, director of development. “Money raised from the tournament and dinner will help fund the scholarship. We've received more than $12,000 in donations and hope to exceed our $50,000 goal by the end of the summer.”

Parsons, who was 56 at his death, farmed more than 9,000 acres of cotton and grain and served numerous state and national agricultural organizations through membership and leadership roles.

He is remembered throughout the agricultural community for his dedication to problem solving and willingness to be the first to try new ideas.

“In addition to his love for his family, of whom he spoke often, Rick Parsons was an innovator in production agriculture having had the vision to use precision agriculture technology early on in conjunction with crop rotation, yield monitors, field mapping, aerial imagery and variable rate applications,” says friend and fellow farmer, Kenneth Hood of Gunnison, Miss.

“Besides being one of my closest friends, Rick had a special way of touching everyone he associated with because of his genuine sincerity to listen, whether related to personal or business questions,” Hood says.

“He had the unique ability to assess problems from a number of different perspectives and offer workable solutions,” adds Hood. “I cherished his friendship even more when things would seem to not be pressing forward as projected; his dry sense of humor would kick in and soon everyone would be back in harmony.

“I had the privilege of serving on a number of committees with Rick, and we traveled together quite often. I will always remember these special times and will never forget the camaraderie of my true friend.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the golf tournament or in making a donation to the scholarship fund should contact Skelton at 662-325-0643 or by e-mail at


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