William B. "Bill" Lewis
Born: July 20, 1921
Parents: Archie & Quessie Lewis
Married: Amy Floyd June 29, 1946
Alice Reed Smith August 31, 1985
Daughter: Subu Rose Lewis
Activities, Honors, and Interests:
The Order of Longleaf Pine by NC Governor
Distinguished Service Award — NACAA
Ruling Elder of his Presbyterian Church
Enjoys gardening and traveling.William D. "Bill" Lewis
William D. "Bill" Lewis became Wilson County's first Extension Tobacco Agent on August 15, 1950. In that capacity, he promoted scientific methods of efficiently producing tobacco for profits. The planned methods included test plots, communities meetings, farm visits, news articles, radio and TV programs and the evaluation of the results.
Since this is prepared primarily for the Tobacco Faun Life Museum, the focus will be toward tobacco work in the St. Mary's community. Tobacco test plots in this community we held with William Holland, Clingman Kirby, Daylon and Herman Barnes and with Scotts — Ralph, Linwood, Harrison, Exum, Hubert and others.
Walter L. "Dick" Williamson locally assembled the recommended seed, chemicals and fertilizers and distributed them on an honor system in the community.
Timely community tobacco meetings were held with the St. Mary's Young farmer's Club. This was a model of perfection of the transfer of research knowledge from the laboratory to the field production in the shortest time frame.
Multiple disease resistant varieties: chemical control of blue mold, blackshank, nematodes, wireworms, weeds, and sucker; precision fertilizer and irrigation were introduced. Yields rose rapidly from 1500 to 2500 pounds per acre. Bulk curing and mechanical harvesting followed permitting significant labor saving.
Policy issues relating to tobacco were debated and refined within the St. Mary's Young Farmer's Club and moved on to the Wilson County Farm Bureau where Dick Williamson was president. There the issues were further developed and recommended to the North Carolina Farm Bureau where Williamson was chairman of the Tobacco Committee. Such policy issues developed into programs as the discount variety, acreage-poundage and market designation which with a minimum of friction were widely accepted and achieved their goals.
Bill Lewis served as County Agent through 1976 and became Governor James B. Hunt, Jr.'s advisor on Agriculture, Forestry and Seafood. Dick Williamson was appointed Chairman on this committee. They continued their efforts on behalf of tobacco by initiating a program to bring the Congressional Agricultural Staff to NC to view the tobacco industry; to develop "Pride in Quality Tobacco" program; to lead a tour of farmers to visit tobacco manufacturers in Europe to discuss the qualities of the NC leaf; and to assist Governor Hunt in planning a tobacco leadership group to visit mainland China.
Bill Lewis was born July 20, 1921 and was raised on a tobacco faun in Robeson County. He graduated from Orrum High School, received a BS degree in Agricultural Education from NC State University, served four years in WWII in the Pacific Theater with the 90th Bomb Group, discharged as a Captain after four years. He managed tobacco farms for two years. After advanced training in tobacco production at NC State, he took a position for three years working with the NC Agricultural Extension Service, promoting the production of Turkish tobacco production in 15 western NC counties before coming to Wilson County.