Collier Wenderoth, Chairman of O.K. Foods, Dies

On June 10, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Maggie Ernst

Collier Wenderoth, Jr., a pioneer in the Arkansas poultry industry, died on Monday, June 6 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Wenderoth was chairman of the board of O.K Industries, Inc.  He was 87.

Wenderoth began his long career by first selling feed for O.K. Feed Mills, Inc.  He became president of the company in 1955 after his father’s death, as well as assuming the title of chairman of the board.  Under his leadership, O.K. industries and its subsidiaries, headquartered in Fort Smith, grew to employing 3,500 today in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Wenderoth, an honorary lifetime member of the National Chicken Council,  served as NCC chairman of the board in 1978-1980, and was recognized as a “pioneer of the industry” at the organization’s 50th anniversary annual conference in 2004.  He also was a past chairman of the Arkansas Poultry Federation, and the federation on two occasions selected him as “Man of the Year.”

“Collier Wenderoth was a visionary leader of the poultry industry, building his family company and the entire industry with it,” said George Watts, president emeritus of NCC.  “He was always generous with his time and energy.  As a business and civic leader, he commanded respect in Arkansas and across the country. He will truly be missed.”

In 2009, Wenderoth was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame for his outstanding leadership in the development of agriculture in Arkansas.  He was named as one of  32 pioneers in the poultry processing industry by the Poultry Center of Excellence at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville,  for his many significant contributions.

Wenderoth’s public service included the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce and Sparks Medical Center.  He was president of the Midwest Feed Manufacturers Association, a board member of the United Fund, the Fort Smith Junior College, and the First National Bank.

He served in World War II, including two years in Italy as a member of the Army Air Corps.  He enjoyed flying, always maintained his  private pilot’s license, and he and his wife made two trips in their private plane around the world.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Nancy; his four daughters and their spouses, Nancy and Harry Robinson; Gingie and Marc Watson; Janie and Randall W. Goines; and Sally and James Jones; one sister, Nan Wenderoth; and 14 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Collier Wenderoth Memorial Fund at First Presbyterian Church, 116 North 12th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas or the The Chapel at Sawgrass, P.O. Box 3205, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004.