This past week Minden lost one of our long-time community leaders, Mr. Don Hinton. In his memory this week I am rerunning a Cameo that my mother wrote about Mr. Hinton in 2006.
-- John Agan
Several weeks ago following an article on Sanitary Dairy, I had a nice visit on the phone with Don Hinton who remembered with pleasure all those years he served as Chairman of the Board for 27 years before their sale.
Since he has reached the age of 94 and is still clear in his memories I felt like he deserved another Cameo on his long and remarkable life. Here are excerpts of his earlier Cameo of almost ten years ago along with other memories he has accumulated along the way.
When you have read this article you will see that this is a most remarkable man who has lived a very rewarding and productive 1ife here in Minden.
The Bible says that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man”, and the same can be said of Don Hinton. He served his fellow man through his church, his business, his family and his example by the life he lived.
He was born August 12, 1912, in Clay, Louisiana. Since he was born in Clay it is understandable that he would spend 64 years of his life working not only’ with clay but all types of soil witl1 the Soil and Water Conservation Service.
His father was a partner in a general store that also operated a cotton gin, and a farming operation, too. This was an opportunity for our Cameo personality to start doing different jobs at a very early age.
After high school he started La. Tech and studied Agricultural Science under Mr. R. L. Reese, head of this department. The influence of Mr. Reese had a lasting effect on Don Hinton’s life.
In 1934 with a degree in Science and Agriculture and with his Education courses, he qualified to teach which he did for a year and a half. Then he went to work with the Soil Erosion Services, which later became the Soil and Water Conservation Service.
He has just finished 70 years in conservation work and 13 years with the Soil Conservation Service and 57 years as Chairman of the Dorcheat Soil and Water Conservation District and was honored by the Dorcheat Soil and Water Conservation District for his 64 years of service.
After 13 years with the Soil Conservation Service he went into the dairy business on a farm that was badly eroded, with deep gullies and 50 percent to 75 percent of the topsoil washed away. One of his greatest pleasures has been to bring back the soil to grow excellent pasture and hay crops.
He has had exceptional success in his chosen career. He has been named “Dairyman of the Year for Louisiana” and “Man of the Year in Louisiana agriculture” by the Progressive Farmer Magazine.
Don has owned and operated Ferndale Farm for 54 years. He was La. Tech’s Alumnus of the year for 2000. Don’s dairy business was selling raw milk at the dairy He realized that to meet competition he had to start pasteurizing ‘his milk.
Don remembers being in the Chamber of Commerce meeting when J. K. Gladney, the County Agent, pointed out that Minden needed a milk plant.
They agreed and went to work to get E. H. Lumpkin, Sam Culbertson, and George Reynolds to join in the effort.
A lot was bought, a building built and Sanitary Dairy was in business. When the manager did not work out, they persuaded Leroy Miller to buy stock and come in as the Manager.
Don could not say enough nice things about Leroy Miller. He said that Leroy always put the other fellow first, and all the employees loved him.
Leroy hired Duane Corley and trained him to operate the milk room. He did an outstanding job because he watched every detail.
Then Leroy went to Tech and tried to hire the man teaching Dairy Manufacturing. He did not take the job but recommended Harvey Kelley who he said would do just as well as he would.
Harvey was wonderful and set up a laboratory to check every producer’s milk. Samples were taken every time milk was picked up.
If any problems were ever found he was an expert with working with the producer. He was a very valuable employee, but he was lost in a chain saw accident.
Mr. E. H. Lumpkin sold his stock to the company and Don was made President, which position he held for 27 years.
A few years after the dairy was begun Marcus Wren was allowed to buy stock and go to work as Sales Manager. Leroy Miller drew up a rule that said no stockholder could get more stock than any of the others.
Sanitary Dairy went “All Jersey” and expanded its territory to include Shreveport and all of Northwest Louisiana. They were second in sales when they sold out. Sanitary Dairy succeeded as it did because of Leroy Miller.
Don has been honored by many organizations. He served as director of Peoples Bank for 23 years. He has been named “Man of the Year” by the Jr. Chamber of Commerce, and also, “Man of the Year” by the Minden Lions Club. He served as President and Lion Tamer of the Lions Club.
Minden Chamber of Commerce had him as its President. He served on many committees, along with being on the Farm Credit Bank Board for eight years, and as Chairman for one year.
He served seve years on State Soil Conservation Committee which administers the State Soil Conservation Program. He was chairman for there years. There are so many honors in the dairy industry, as well as soil conservation that he has been given, and so many committees that he served as chairman.
Even though he has been busy with his career he has not neglected service both to his church and his community.
Don is a lifelong member of the Methodist Church and has served as Lay Leader and Certified Lay Speaker. He has been Chairman of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, Chairman of the Administrative Board, on the Finance Committee and has been a delegate to the annual conference
The manager for many years of the Webster Coop Store here was Sammy Blossom. He wrote Don a letter that sums up how so many people feel about him. He said “I will always appreciate the kindness you showed me while I was in Minden. The lessons that I learned from you covered not only about business, but also community and church responsibility and will make me a better man for the rest of my life. I will always be grateful to you for showing me, by example, how important service and leadership in all these areas are. Thank you.”
There are many titles that could be applied to Don Hinton – teacher, farmer, dairyman, soil conservationist, a good citizen, a family man, a Christian, a gentleman, and a role model for any who aspire to achieve honor and dignity in all these ‘areas.
Minden is proud of you, Don, and you are an important part of our history.
Juanita Agan passed away in October, 2008 at the age of 85. She had been a Minden resident since 1935 and a columnist for the Press-Herald since 1995. A constant writer, Mrs. Agan had many stories written but unpublished. The Press-Herald will continue to publish these articles as long as they are submitted.