Pike County remembers John Dorrill

Published 9:18 pm Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Some people live their lives to the limit. John Dorrill was one of those people

Dorrill’s death on Tuesday left a void that cannot be filled, not even with all the rich soil that surrounds his beloved Clay Hill Farms in the Pronto Community.

“John loved his farm; he loved the land and the trees; he loved nature and everything the Lord provided,” said Deborah Huggins-Davis. “I have never known anyone who was more generous or more caring. John was a true Christian man. He was an encourager. He was a cheerleader for all good things. He and Carol always welcomed every opportunity to be a part of the community. They opened their home, their farm and their hearts to so many. John Dorrill will be missed, tremendously but we know where he is now. His gain is our loss.”

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Tammy Powell, like Huggins-Davis, served with Dorrill on the Pike County Farm-City and Treasure Forrest committees and participated along with him in other farm related programs.

Powell said, too, that John Dorrill was the finest kind of man, the kind who would give you the shirt off his back.

“John was from the ‘old school’ but he was open-minded and always willing to consider new ideas,” Powell said. “John was kind and thoughtful and, not just in the way he thought, but in the way he presented things.

“John Dorrill filled his ‘dash’ — his ‘from-to’ — with good stuff, with mighty good stuff. He did all he could and more. He will be missed in so many ways, by so many.

Neighbors, Matt and Christy Wilson, said Dorrill was a good neighbor and good friend to all in the Clay Hill/Pronto community.

“In spite of all his major accomplishments at ALFA and throughout farming community, John Dorrill took time to pass on the knowledge he had gained to young farmers,” Matt said. “He made time to give back.  He made a difference.”

Christy Wilson said Dorrill lived a long life and he enjoyed the living of it. “He will be missed by all his neighbors and all his many friends.”

Pike County Soil and Water Conservation board chair Elizabeth Motes said Dorrill was a well-respected member of the board and well-known throughout the district.

“John was an asset to our board from the time he came on in 2005,” Motes said. “He was our Legislative liason and served on the District RC&D council and was the chair of our Sam Williams Conservation Foundation Scholarship. He and Carol hosted many events at their farm that pertained to farming – land judging, the Learning Tree program, Take-a-Kid Fishing Day, among others. To say John Dorrill will be missed is the least that can be said.”

Jeff Knotts worked with Dorrill on many farm and forest related committees and boards.

“Many good things could be said about John Dorrill,” Knotts said, “But, in a few words, he was a real fine fellow.”

Dorrill was a Pike County native whose father was a sharecropper. He graduated from Pike County High School. After attending Troy State University, he served two years in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps during the Korean War. When he returned to Alabama, Dorrill enrolled at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University (AU), where he earned a degree in agricultural economics.

Dorrill began his career at the Federation in June 1955 as an area organization director. He soon became a lobbyist for the organization and assistant to then-president J.D. Hays. He later served as Federation executive director under former president Goodwyn Myrick, a position he held until retiring in 1998.

“The Alabama Farmers Federation joins Mr. Dorrill’s family in mourning the loss of this legendary leader who throughout his life never lost his agricultural roots,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “I’m not sure we’ll ever know the full impact he had on Alabama agriculture, but there is no doubt farming in Alabama would not be what it is today without the work and dedication of John Dorrill.”

In 2003, Dorrill received the Federation’s Special Service To Agriculture Award — the highest award given by the state’s largest farm organization. In 2006, he was inducted into AU Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor.