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Former Henry county agent, John Pipkin, dies

Special Photo
John Pipkin, Sr., (seated) died Thursday after a battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Pipkin is pictured with his five children ( from left): Rod Pipkin, Andy Pipkin, Ruth Anne Pipkin Smith, Bill Pipkin and Bob Pipkin.

Special Photo John Pipkin, Sr., (seated) died Thursday after a battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Pipkin is pictured with his five children ( from left): Rod Pipkin, Andy Pipkin, Ruth Anne Pipkin Smith, Bill Pipkin and Bob Pipkin.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Funeral services will be held Sunday, in McDonough, for a man who, according to his children, was instrumental in the growth of crops -- and people -- during his career.

John Andrew Pipkin, Sr., 86, died Thursday. He succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease at Henry Medical Center's Laurel Park, a nursing home.

His funeral will be held at 3 p.m., at First Baptist Church in McDonough. Interment will follow at Eastlawn Memorial Gardens.

Pipkin served as county agent in Henry from 1959 to 84. His work set the standard for the duties performed by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office in McDonough, said former Henry County Tax Commissioner Andy Pipkin.

John Pipkin grew up on a farm in Blakely, Ga., in the southern part of the state. This, according to son Bill Pipkin, is where his father began to develop a strong "work ethic."

"My daddy ... grew up tough," said Bill Pipkin, 54. "He had to do all the chores, and he worked hard. If he wasn't in school, he was working on that farm."

John Pipkin served from 1941 to 45, in the U.S. Navy, as a medic during World War II. He then attended Auburn University, graduating in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Science. Along the way, he married Millie, the woman who would be his wife of 62 years, and with whom he had five children: Andy, 61; Ruth Anne, 58; Bill, 54; and twin sons, Bob and Rod, 45.

John Pipkin's oldest son, former Henry County Tax Commissioner Andy Pipkin, said his father spent several years honing his craft in the farming industry. "He was an assistant county agent in Grady County and in Taylor County," said Andy Pipkin. "He farmed in Carroll County before he came here."

John Pipkin was the president of the Henry County Farm Bureau until the mid-1990s, when current president, Jack Elkins, took over the position. Elkins said many residents learned about farming from Pipkin. "In those days, county agents taught people how to farm, how to use fertilizer and stop erosion," said Elkins. "Those were the days when it was necessary to improve farmers' techniques and methods."

Andy Pipkin said, as county agent, his dad had a significant role in the livelihoods of farmers in Henry. "It's probably a bigger impact back then than it is now, simply because more people farmed, and more people had gardens and things of that nature," he said. "He went around when people called him, and he would go to their gardens and things of that nature, ... and he gave them advice. I used to tease him and tell him he had it made, because he went around, ate a piece of pie at everybody's house, because they always would offer him something."

Bob Pipkin, of Dalton, said his father helped to pass along important information to farmers, to assist them in their duties. "All the studying and all the things they found out [at UGA] about gardening and farming, and new ways to do things, he would take that and extend it ... to the farmers and gardeners," Bob Pipkin said.

John Pipkin also served, during his career, as a 4-H leader in the extension service. Rod Pipkin said his father became a "second dad" for kids involved in the program. "He disciplined [his own children], but he sure did discipline a lot of other kids," he added. "It made us the men that we are, so I think he contributed to a lot of young men in this area."

John Pipkin's grandson, Henry County Assistant District Attorney Trea Pipkin, said his grandfather will be remembered as a man who made a difference in his community.

"He was very much a believer that if it is true that 90 percent of the people do the fun stuff, and 10 percent of the people do all the work in the community, you needed to be in that 10 percent," said Trea Pipkin, 29. "You needed to be somebody that was involved, that cared about the world around you."