Volume 23 | Issue 2

Walter Cherry passes away in Iowa

Served as NC Pork CEO 1987-2000

From his obituary:

Walter Wilson Cherry III was born October 6, 1946 in Tarboro, NC. He was the son of Walter Wilson Cherry Jr. and Mildred Kimball Gammon Cherry. He died on January 24, 2023 in Johnston, Iowa. Walter Wilson grew up on the family farm along with his younger sister, Millie. He spent his days working the crops alongside his daddy and showing cattle with 4H. Walter Wilson graduated from North Edgecombe High School in 1965 and headed off to NC State University in his pink Chevrolet, graduating in 1969 with a BA in Animal Science. He liked to say that while he was never an A student, he always managed to get invited back for the next term.

Walter worked in the Cooperative Extension Service, the National Spotted Swine Association and the Marketing Division of the NC Department of Agriculture before becoming the Executive Director of the NC Pork Producers Association. During his tenure, he led the Pork Council and the industry through the largest production growth in their history, growing from 7th in the nation to second in the nation. His rein also included great changes in environmental protection for the state, including water shed protection and lagoon close out procedures. He was always loyal and dedicated to the industry and its farmers. Walter was a licensed auctioneer and sold livestock auctions across the U.S. He volunteered yearly, auctioneering the Junior Livestock Shows for 4H youth. When he left on the bus, headed for Texas to attend auctioneer school, his Uncle G.R. gifted him a handmade wooden gavel. He used that gavel at every auction that he ever sold.

In 1985, while traveling through Iowa, Walter met Amy at an establishment called Denny Arthurs. After a long-distance relationship, they were married at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN on March 18, 1989. They made their home on Goren Place in Raleigh, NC, along with their daughter, Jenna Grace, who was born in 1990 and their son, Britt Wilson, who was born in 1993.

Walter loved to cook and he loved having people eat what he cooked. Biscuits, cornbread, hushpuppies, Southern fried anything and everything was how he ran his kitchen. Butter, salt, a little more salt, a little more butter and a hefty dose of pepper was key to every recipe. If a little butter was good, more butter was better. Sitting at his table was a delight and likely the reason for his need for cholesterol medication.

Walter loved his chair and a big fat nap. He loved a road trip with his family, a Mt Dew and a bag of Cheetos for company. He loved Southern gospel music and sitting outside during a thunderstorm. He loved Carolina BBQ, coleslaw and sweet tea. He loved watching his children do flip flops, hit baseballs, swim laps and make tackles. He loved planting bright colored impatiens in the back garden each spring and going to NC State ball games. He loved a “stout” pig and a “solid” heifer and going to the animal barns at the State Fair. His birthday cake each year was a “Pig Pickin” cake, made using the recipe given to him by Mary Matthews from Pilot Mountain, NC. He loved his salt water aquarium, staring in dismay when one of his $100 fish was found floating for no reason and he loved his dogs, especially Maddux. He loved taking his kids to AJ’s to get biscuits in the “old truck” before school. He loved being the “Voice of the Mustangs” for Middle Creek football and basketball and auctioneering for the Stampede Club and he loved being a “Grumpy” to his grandson, Jack. He loved Amy enough to accompany her on a cross country move back to Iowa so that she could be closer to her parents. Together they lived in “the Red House” for 8 years, cooking Sunday breakfasts for the “Iowa crowd.”

Walter was a man of few words. He was a man of integrity and unwavering honesty. He was impeccably dressed, was patient, kind, and true to his word. He was a Southern Gentleman, without a bow tie.

Walter is survived by his wife, Amy Blenderman Cherry of Grimes, Iowa; his daughter, Jenna Grace Cherry (Jake Johnson) of Grimes, Iowa; his son, Britt Wilson Cherry (Makensie Becker) of Minneapolis, MN; his grandson, Jack Henry Johnson of Grimes, Iowa; and his sister, Millie Bruton (Bill) of Mt. Gilead, NC. There are multiple other family members that will miss his presence at the table.

Walter enjoyed volunteering his time with the kids involved in the 4H livestock programs. He grew up showing cattle with 4H and was the President of the Livestock Exhibition Program while at NC State. Memorials should be sent to the family at 2408 NE Beaverbrooke Blvd. Grimes, Iowa 50111. They will then be directed to a local 4H Livestock Program.

There will be a Pig Picking to celebrate Walter’s life in early summer, including slaw, hushpuppies, sweet tea and Mary Matthews cake.

Share a memory of Walter on his obituary page.

From the Winter 2001 NC Pork Report:

A Tribute to Walter Cherry

On June 1, 1987, the North Carolina Pork Producers Association welcomed a new Executive Director, Walter Wilson Cherry. Walter was a native Tar Heel from Whitakers, a small community in Edgecombe County. With a degree from North Carolina State University, Walter came armed with skills acquired while working in the Cooperative Extension Service, the National Spotted Swine Association, and the Marketing Division of the NC Department of Agriculture.

North Carolina ranked seventh in swine production when Walter took the reins. During the last thirteen years, he has led the Pork Council and the industry through the largest production growth in their history to its current ranking of second in the nation. The growth also included many of the greatest research breakthroughs in swine diseases, genetics, and a great emphasis on environmental protection.

Walter's leadership helped build the NC Pork Council into what it is today, the respected voice for the industry in North Carolina and a national leader in many areas of today's dynamic pork industry. He has earned the respect of people throughout the swine industry, in government agencies, and in the

circle where he represented our industry so well.

His gentle and kind manner provided strong direction but yet allowed pork producers to express their opinions and develop the pork industry their

way. The Pork Council Staff, Board of Directors, and the producers of North Carolina say thank you Walter for a "job well done." We will miss your humor and enthusiasm and we wish you the very best in your future endeavors.

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