Lannie Lee: A profile in service
By: Jennifer Whittaker
3/20/2017 2:42:11 PM
This article ran in Georgia Farm Bureau's 2015 spring/summer Georgia Neighbors magazine.
Born and raised in Bulloch County, Lannie Lee, 94, spent two years working at a steel plant in Toccoa, Ga., before being drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943. He served as a mechanic during World War II overhauling the motors of B-24 and B-17 planes in England and Germany before being discharged in May 1946 with the rank of sergeant.
"I'm proud I was able to serve. I would do it again if I was called on," Lee said. "It's quite an experience, and I don't think I'll ever forget it either."
Lee joined Farm Bureau in 1947 after he returned home from the war and began farming with his brothers Gordon and B.C. For years the brothers grew corn, soybeans, peanuts, tobacco and raised cattle.
After his brothers died, Lee continued to farm and still grows corn, soybeans, peanuts and sugar cane to make syrup that he sells in his community.
In 1950, Lee married his wife Marcia, who died in 1992, and raised a family of two daughters - Patricia Morton and Cathy Marchette, - and a son, Mark. He has five grandchildren and a great grandchild.
When Lee first joined Farm Bureau, Bulloch County had numerous community chapters, and he served as president of the Brooklet Chapter in the 1950s.
"At Brooklet we had about 150 members and all of them showed up, but after a while they dwindled down as people died and folks moved away to go to school and didn't come home. Some of the chapters got so small they disbanded," Lee recalled. Today, only the Middle Ground Community Chapter still exists.
Lee said being a Farm Bureau member kept him up-to-date on what other farmers were doing and helped him keep up with commodity prices. Through the years he's watched farming change.
"Today one man does what 15 or 20 used to do. We grow improved varieties of soybeans and peanuts and the yield has gone up," Lee said. "The planters became more mechanized and put out seed more accurately. We used to didn't know what a soil sample was, but now we have our soil analyzed and can tell what condition our soil is in. Extension agents can recommend what you need to add to the soil depending on what crop you're going to grow as far as adding nitrogen, phosphorus or pot ash."
Irrigation has also played a role in making farmers more productive, said Lee, who began irrigating his crops in 1977.
Lee became a director of the Bulloch County Farm Bureau and in 1973 was nominated to serve as vice president with his friend M.L. Miller serving as president. The two held their respective offices for 34 years until Miller died in 2007 and Lee became president. Since 1947, he's gone to countless GFB and American Farm Bureau conventions.
"I've enjoyed every year of Farm Bureau, and I certainly enjoy the Farm Bureau family. I've made a lot of good friends through the years," Lee said.
Lee said educating consumers about the importance of agriculture is one of the most important things he thinks Farm Bureau does.
"Farm Bureau works to educate the public on how important it is for farmers to grow crops and make a good crop," Lee said. "The last few years we've been using Ag in the Classroom to educate the young boys and girls about where their food comes from and how it's processed."
Bulloch County Farm Bureau Vice President Bill Akers has known Lee since 1991 and has traveled with him to numerous GFB and American Farm Bureau events since 2007.
"I think Mr. Lannie is an icon for Georgia Farm Bureau. That's the way the rest of our board feels, too. He's an icon, and we enjoy every minute of him," Akers said. "That chuckle of his that you hear, you'll hear daylight to dark."
For more on this story: