Tommy Irvin, who was a commissioner of agriculture longer than anyone in U.S. history, died Sept. 14 in Georgia. He was 88.
He was also the longest-serving statewide official in Georgia’s history. For 42 years straight, he was the state’s commissioner of agriculture, elected to that office in 1969. He began his public service in 1956 when he was elected to the Habersham County Board of Education.
On hearing the news of his passing, current Georgia agricultural leaders remembered Irvin’s stalwart leadership and the legacy he left on the state’s No. 1 industry.
Gary Black, Georgia’s current agriculture commissioner who was elected to the office following Irvin’s retirement, said, “Commissioner Irvin loved serving Georgia’s farmers and consumers for over three generations. He touched us all with his unsurpassed spirit of stewardship, commitment and work ethic. Beyond agriculture, his commitment to education put a strong and admirable exclamation point on his life’s work. We pray for and offer our condolences to the Irvin family during this difficult period.”
"Georgia farmers and Georgia Farm Bureau lost a longtime advocate and friend last night with the passing of former Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin. Commissioner Irvin was a fine gentleman and public servant, and he was steadfast in his support of Georgia farmers. He was a Habersham County Farm Bureau member for more than fifty years,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long.
Georgia Congressman Sanford Bishop said, “I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of my friend of longstanding, Tommy Irvin, who served as a devoted champion for Georgia’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers. … His passion for public service and his advocacy for the agriculture community will not be forgotten. He is an example for all public servants to follow. My thoughts and prayers go out to Tommy’s family and friends during this time of loss.”