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Scholarship honors George Franklin Jr.

The late George B. Franklin Jr., producer/ginner at Holly Ridge and Rayville, La., has been honored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association with a scholarship award in his memory.

The 2007-08 scholarship will go to a student at the Gin Management and Technology School at Mississippi State University.

“Forward-thinking, respecter of the land, innovator, protector of wildlife, environmentalist, a patriot with a strong sense of duty to God and country — all are among the many terms that fit this outstanding man,” said Billy Guthrie, SCGA president, who announced the award at the group's annual banquet at Memphis.

Franklin, who died Aug. 12, 2007, accomplished many “firsts” on his extensive landholdings, Guthrie said.

“He started the first hardwood plantation in the South, and established habitat that supported a flourishing wildlife population. He planted food plots for deer, flooded large acreages for ducks, and was a firm believer in filter strips.

“He was a pioneer in his area in precision leveling, irrigation, cotton/rice rotations, and other progressive practices. His influence reached far beyond the physical boundaries of northeast Louisiana.”

He earned state and national recognition for his conservation practices, including the national Wetlands Conservation Award, the Farm Press High Cotton Award, and the Ag Expo Distinguished Service Award.

Underweight for military service, at 72 pounds, but wanting to be an airman, Franklin's tenacity won out when “a cooperative sergeant” overlooked the requirements and let him in the Air Force.

He completed 35 missions as a ball-turret gunner on a B-17 bomber in World War II, earning six air medals, four battle stars, and a presidential citation.

After military service, he returned home to begin building his widespread operations and businesses, “all centered around the family, community, state, and nation that he dearly loved,” Guthrie said.

“Mr. George, through his personal and professional life, left a great legacy. He is very deserving of this honor, and we know he would be pleased that his legacy is continuing to invest in education through this scholarship.”

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