Kings County, Calif., agriculturist Jack Stone, 93, a western San Joaquin Valley farming visionary and industry leader for more than six decades, died Tuesday in a Hanford, Calif., hospital after a brief illness.
Stone, a native of Corcoran, Calif., will be honored at a memorial tomorrow (Saturday, May 20) at 11 a.m. at a landmark valley gathering park he created, Jack Stone’s Barn in Lemoore.
Stone was a tireless leader in developing west valley irrigated agriculture and a farming advocate with few equals. He worked diligently as a consensus builder within agriculture and reached out to those who challenged farming in the valley. He served many leadership roles, including president of Westlands Water District, the largest irrigation district in the U.S.; the National Cotton Council; and the Western Cotton Growers Association, predecessor to the current California Cotton Growers Association.
Stone continued farming at his family’s Stone Land Company virtually to the day he entered the hospital.
Stone was as passionate about his family as he was about farming. Jack and his son Bill and the rest of the Stone family were honored several years ago with the Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award.
His enthusiasm for farming was equaled by his love of flying. He gave many people their first flying lessons. He was a World War II veteran, serving as a captain in the Army Corps of Engineers in the European Theater. After the war he began farming in the Five Points, Calif., area.
Son Bill and his wife Ann survive as well as many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Hilda and his son John.