Clovis loses ag community leader, William Frank McFarlane
William Frank McFarlane of Clovis passed away in his boyhood home on May 15, 2012, after many years of battle with Parkinson’s disease.
He was born in Fresno, California, on January 1, 1926, to Dallas Fleming McFarlane and James Frank McFarlane, and grew up on their southeast Clovis farm, attending Jefferson Elementary School and Clovis Union High School. From Fresno State College he transferred to University of Southern California, earning Bachelor of Science degrees in both Naval Science and Business Administration. In 1948 he and his parents formed a farming partnership, McFarlane and McFarlane, growing Muscat grapes for raisins and wine. Through the years crop plans evolved to include cotton, grain, plums, vegetable and flower seeds, almonds, citrus and rice.
He and Anne Cochrane married in 1948, parenting four daughters and a son. He was married to Dorcas Hardison Thille in 2002.
His leadership in the farmer cooperative arena is legend, beginning in 1951 when he joined Sun-Maid Raisin Growers Advisory Council. He was president of Clovis-Sanger Cooperative Gin from its inception in 1954 until 1978; joined the board of Calcot, Ltd. in 1955 and was chairman of that organization from 1966 to 1974; served as president of California Cotton Growers Association; and was a member of the Producers Steering Committee of the National Cotton Council. He was a director of the Western Cotton Growers Association for 24 years, and president for 3. After almonds replaced cotton in the eastside landscape, he was for 30 years founding president of Central California Almond Growers Association—from its inception in 1963 until 1993. He retired from the board in 1994. He served on the board of Blue Diamond Growers for 17 years, 2 years as vice-chairman and 4 years as chairman.
A principal of the family-farming group Cinco Farms, he served as president of California Westside Farmers for 8 years and chairman of Farm-Water Alliance for 6 years, which effort culminated in the signing into law of the federal Reclamation Reform Act of 1982. He was a member of the board of Westlands Water District for 4 years, and served on the board of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation of the US Department of Agriculture during the 8 years of the Reagan Administration.
In 1967 he became a director of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, as well as the Agricultural Council of California, served as vice-chairman, then chairman of the Ag Council, and was awarded their second Co-Op Farmer of the Year Award in 1994. In the same year he received the Agriculturist of the Year Award at the California State Fair; and in 2000 the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce Agriculturalist of the Year Award, Fresno County Farm Bureau having presented their Special Recognition Award to him in 1991. From 1976 to 1990 he was a member of the governing board of the CSUF Agricultural Foundation, and most recently a member of Friends of Agricultural Extension.
He was a member of the Jefferson Union Elementary governing board and a charter member of the Clovis Unified School District board. He was a founding member of the board of directors of the Foundation for Clovis Schools, and a member of the Reagan Educational Center Agriculture Department Advisory Committee.
He is survived by his wife, Dorcas; his four daughters, Susan Harper and her husband Chip of Paris, Texas, Sayre Miller and her husband Byron of Sanger, Jane Gamble of Pacific Grove and Alison McFarlane of Carmel Valley; his son, James McFarlane and his wife Darla of Clovis; 14 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held at Memorial United Methodist Church, 1726 Pollasky Avenue at Scott Avenue in Clovis, on Friday, May 25, at 10:30 am. Following the service a noon luncheon reception was held at Clovis Veterans Memorial Building, 808 4th Street, Clovis.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to McFarlane-Coffman Agricultural Center, Clovis Community Medical Center, or Clovis-Big Dry Creek Historical Society.
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