George's Chairman Gene George Dies at 88

George's Inc. of Springdale announced Wednesday that its chairman Gene George has died. He was 88.

George's career spanned more than five decades with George's Inc., a third-generation family enterprise and one of the largest and integrated poultry companies in Arkansas.

George attended the University of Arkansas in the 1940s. He joined his father and brother in the poultry business, and became company president and CEO in 1969 after his father died. He was named chairman in 1980. George's Inc. has operations in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia.

George was an original investor and director of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell and Hudson Foods Co. of Rogers. George also helped found the start-up Legacy National Bank of Springdale in 2004, which had $234 million in assets at the end of 2008.

In 2002, he was inducted in the University of Arkansas' Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. In 2009, Arkansas Business named George among its 25 "Living Legends."

Full Statement from Geroge's Inc. on Gene George

SPRINGDALE, Arkansas – George’s, Inc. announced today the death of family member and Chairman Gene George after a short illness.  He was 88 years old.

Ellis Eugene “Gene” George was born at home July 15, 1922 in the Brush Creek community of Elm Springs, Arkansas. Gene moved with his family from Brush Creek to Springdale in 1934 and graduated from Springdale schools as President of his senior class.  He attended the University of Arkansas majoring in Business Administration.  He served in the United States Navy from May 12, 1944 to May 16, 1946.  During his childhood years, Gene performed various duties at the Farmers Produce Company, a business started by his father.  Returning from the Navy he joined his father, C. L. and his brother, Luther, in the company which later became known as George’s Feed and Supply Company and presently George’s, Inc.  After the untimely death of his brother in 1969, followed shortly thereafter by the death of his father, Gene took over full responsibility for the George’s company, serving as President and Chief Executive Officer from 1969 to 1980 and Chairman of the Board from 1980 until his death.  Gene George, along with his brother and father transformed this small produce business that began in the1920’s with a handful of people serving local and regional markets, into a multi-division poultry corporation serving both national and international markets.  George’s, Inc. is a 4th generation family owned company with operations in Arkansas, Missouri and Virginia, which employs more than 4000 people and produces approximately 5 million broilers per week. 

Gene served on the First National Bank of Springdale Board of Directors from 1969 to 2004 and the Springdale Memorial Hospital Board of Directors (currently Northwest Medical Center) from 1970 to 1998. He also served on the J. B. Hunt Transport Incorporated Board of Directors from its inception in 1961 to 2004, the Hudson Foods Board of Directors and the Arkansas Poultry Federation Board of Directors.  He was President of the Arkansas Turkey Federation in 1963 and Chairman of the Arkansas Poultry Festival in 1982.  Gene was named “Man of the Year” in 1982 by the Arkansas Poultry Federation.  He was given the “Outstanding Civic Service Award” by the Springdale Chamber of Commerce in 1994.    Gene was inducted into the Arkansas Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1993 and into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2002.  The news magazine Arkansas Business named him one of the “Top 25 Living Legends in Arkansas” in 2009. Most recently Gene served on the Community Care Foundation Board of Directors from 1998 to 2003 and on the Legacy National Bank Board of Directors as an original member since 2004. Although Gene has been recognized and honored by many organizations through the years, he was always quick to give the credit to those around him.  He attributed much of his success to the many employees at George’s who call him “Mr. Gene.”  Perhaps the greatest title Gene had was, “La-La,” a name given to him by his grandchildren.  If asked, Gene would be most proud of the success of his family.  They have always been his top priority and the greatest pleasures in his life. He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Mary Frances in 2004.  Gene is survived by his wife, Virginia; two children, Cathy Evans and Gary George; six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.