The late Arizona cotton producer Charles “Charlie” Youngker is the recipient of the 2008 Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award.
The announcement was made at the National Cotton Council’s 2009 annual meeting that was held Feb. 12-16 in Washington, D.C. Accepting the award on behalf of the family were his son, Chuck Youngker, and his daughter, Susan Truax.
The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose “vision, genius and tireless efforts were foremost in the organization and shaping of the NCC” 71 years ago.
The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her active business career. The award also recognizes those who exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.
Youngker, the 10th individual to be honored with this award, was involved for more than six decades in his family’s agribusinesses in Buckeye, Ariz. He was considered by many as one of the Western pioneers who contributed much to the cotton industry’s development in his native state and who was known for his hard work and dedication. He also was a generous contributor to many worthy causes.
As a young man, Youngker moved from Arizona to Iowa to finish school, graduating from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, with a degree in economics. In 1942 he returned to Arizona where he began his long and successful career in agriculture.
In addition to managing the family’s farming operations in three areas of the state, he also was the president and a 28-year member of the Roosevelt Irrigation Board and a 20-year member of the Rainbow Valley Irrigation Board.
He served as president and board chairman of Arizona Cotton Growers Association.
In 1972, Youngker was elected the NCC’s 21st president. His year as NCC president was marked by efforts to improve communications between Cotton Incorporated and the NCC and to spur the development of basic research on byssinosis.
Before becoming NCC president, he represented Arizona on the first Producer Steering Committee and was active in the formation of the Cotton Producers Institute — the predecessor to Cotton Incorporated.
He was a significant contributor to the NCC’s Washington office and played an important leadership role in that effort’s fund-raising.
Youngker was the recipient of the seventh Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award. Then NCC President Jerry Calvani, when recognizing Mr. Youngker for that prestigious award, said, “I would describe Charlie as a mover of mountains — always giving leadership when needed — and yet you sense he prefers to leave the limelight to others.”
Previous Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are: William Garrard, first general manager of Greenwood, Miss.-based Staplcotn Cooperative; Sykes Martin, a Courtland, Ala., producer; Walter Montgomery Sr., a Spartanburg, S.C., textile manufacturer; William Rhea Blake, a former NCC executive vice president; Roger Malkin, long-time chairman and CEO of Delta and Pine Land Company, Scott, Miss.; and former NCC presidents George C. Cortright Jr., a Rolling Fork, Miss., producer; Jack Hamilton, a Lake Providence, La., producer/ginner/warehouseman; and Lon Mann, a Marianna, Ark., ginner; and former NCC chairman James E. Echols, a Memphis, Tenn., merchant. Echols was the first to occupy the position of NCC chairman after the NCC changed the organization’s top position to chairman.