A scholarship to the Mississippi State University Gin Management and Technology School has been endowed by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association in honor of the late Dan “Sonny” Felton Jr., long-time Marianna, Ark., ginner.
The award was announced at the annual banquet of the association, held at Memphis in conjunction with the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show.
“He was a visionary, with a strategic mind,” said Tim Price, SCGA executive vice president, who announced the award. “He was progressive, with a keen business sense; was committed to business and family; was dedicated to learning, and loved family, agriculture, and life.
“In every generation, there are individuals who use their unique talents to adapt and survive. Dan Felton was multi-dimensional: he was involved in the mercantile business, the farming business, and the ginning business. He was an astute businessman, who saw his share of challenges.”
The Felton gin, started by Dan's grandfather, suffered fire damage in the 1920s and 1940s, but was repaired and rebuilt. In 1962, Dan Felton remodeled the facility, replacing three gin stands and associated equipment.
In 1988, the gin was rebuilt again by Dan's son, Trent. The gin remained in the family until 1994, when the family business was merged with the Marianna operation owned by Larry McClendon and Lon Mann to form McLendon, Mann, and Felton Gin Co., Inc.
In addition to the family ginning business, Dan Felton operated a family farming business and a personal farm, including a registered Hampshire hog operation, which was sold in the 1940s to make way for a registered Angus and commercial Angus operation. The cattle operation was sold in 1967 and the land converted to row crops.
Additionally, he served in a number of community, state, and national civic, agricultural, political, and church positions.
“Dan Felton made a mark on the cotton ginning and agriculture industries,” Tim Price said. “Our association is proud to honor his life and work with this scholarship.”