Noal Lawhon, Arkansas seedsman, agribusiness leader has died

J. Noal Lawhon II, who was well-known throughout Arkansas and southern agriculture, especially in the seed grower and seed dealer segment, died Feb. 8 at age 73.

A funeral mass was held at Friday, Feb. 9, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 7, North Little Rock, Ark., with Father John Wakube officiating. 

A native of Batesville, Ark., he was a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he earned a Masters Degree in Business. He and his wife, Joanna, worked side-by-side at the family business, Lawhon Farm Services in McCrory. When their first child was born, Joanna retired and Noal partnered with his father, and together, with the hard work of his employees who he considered family, they built the business into a hub of agricultural services in Woodruff and surrounding counties.

In 1988, under Noal’s leadership, the company was presented the Arkansas Business of the Year award by then Gov. Bill Clinton. In 1992, he launched Delta Seed Company, which became one of the largest seed companies in the Mid-South. His search for new opportunities in agriculture took him as far as Hawaii, Brazil, Russia, and Greece.

Mr. Lawhon had many honors in the agriculture industry, but most important to him was his time as part of the Southern Seed Association, which he served as president in 1992; the Arkansas Seed Dealers Association, which he served as president in 1977; and the Arkansas State Plant Board, which he served as a member of the board of directors from 1998 to 2013. In 2010, he was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Arkansas Seed Dealers Association for his many years of outstanding service to the seed industry.

In 2013, Mr. Lawhon was presented the McCrory Citizen of the Year Award. He continued to oversee his businesses in McCrory, sometimes by phone but often in person — he was always just a phone call away. He was a man of many talents and one employee described him as “tall in stature and big in heart.”

Mr. Lawhon is survived by his wife, Joanna; daughter Sheree Winder, Bauxite, Ark.; son T.J. Lawhon (Mandy), Little Rock; five grandchildren, Katelyn, Kinsley, and Carter Winder of Bauxite, and Evan Marie and Jay Lawhon of Little Rock. His son, J. Noal (Trey) Lawhon III, preceded him in death.

Memorials may be sent to the Michael J. Fox Foundation (michaeljfox.org) or the World Christian Relief Fund, P.O. Box 970, McCrory Ark. 72101.

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