GFB News Magazine

GCC presents Trustees Award to Coley, Lee and McLendon 

by Jay Stone
News Reporter

Posted on March 2, 2024 3:10 PM

Georgia Cotton Commission (GCC) Executive Director Taylor Sills, left, and GCC Chairman Bart Davis, right, congratulate the GCC Trustees Award recipients, from left, Ronnie Lee, Chuck Coley and Bob McLendon. / Photo by Jay Stone

The Georgia Cotton Commission (GCC) honored long-time leaders Chuck Coley, Ronnie Lee, and Bob McLendon with its second class of Trustee Awards, given to individuals who have dedicated themselves to the advancement of Georgia cotton. The awards were presented at the 2024 Georgia Cotton Commission Annual Meeting & Cotton Workshop Jan. 31 at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center.

The award is named after Georgia’s Colonial Trustees who governed the colony for its first 20 years and aspired for it to produce agricultural products for England. This goal led to a ten-acre Trustee Garden being planted in 1734 in Savannah. Many crops were planted that first year, but cotton was the crop that thrived and has been planted in Georgia ever since.

Coley has chaired the National Cotton Council, American Cotton Producers, and the Cotton Foundation. He served terms as president of the National Cotton Ginners Association, Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, and Southern Peanut Warehouse Association.

Coley and his wife, Deby, have two adult children and three grandchildren. They live in Dooly County where Chuck owns and operates Coley Farms and Coley Gin & Fertilizer.

Ronnie Lee has a long record of service to agriculture, having served as chairman of the National Cotton Council; president of Southern Cotton Growers; and a board member of Cotton Inc., the National Peanut Buying Points Association, and the American Peanut Shellers Association. 

Lee and his family operate Lee Farms in Bronwood. Lee is involved in multiple agribusinesses including McCleskey Cotton Company; an aerial application business; a trucking company; and a gin saw and machine shop operation. His sons, Ron, Neil and Chandler, are all active in the family businesses. Lee lives in Terrell County with his wife, Sheila.

McLendon has served agriculture through numerous agricultural organizations. His service included stints as National Cotton Council chairman, Southern Cotton Growers president and Calhoun County Farm Bureau president. He was the 1999 Sunbelt Georgia Farmer of the Year. He has been president of the Edison Gin Co-Op and Sunshine Warehouse of Arlington.

McLendon and his wife, Barbara, live in Calhoun County, where he has farmed since 1974. The couple raised four daughters and have nine grandchildren. 

Scott Carlson of Turner County and Benjamin Reeves of Berrien County were recognized as recipients of the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents (GACAA) King Cotton Awards. Carlson received the Senior King Cotton Award, while Reeves received the Allen B. Fulford Award.