2008 Meritorious Service Award

2008-LeeRichard L. Lee

The Hall of Honors recognizes the meritorious service of Dr. Richard L. “Dick” Lee, for his editorial and publications services with The Dairy Hall of Honors annual awards program booklet for the past 18 years. After retirement from the University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Journalism department, Dick was selected as communications consultant to the university’s Commercial Agriculture Program. His significant contributions to the foundation over the past 18 years are gratefully acknowledged.

Dick was born Nov. 18, 1925 near Purdin in Linn County, Missouri. He learned a work ethic of early rising, pulling his weight and surviving economic hardship from life on his parents’ farm during the Depression.

After graduating from Purdin High School, Dick served three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Following his military service, Dick farmed, drove a livestock truck, taught in a rural school, and completed six hours of college at Northeast Missouri State College. Realizing that he wanted a broader future, he enrolled as an MU agricultural journalism student.

After receiving his B.S. in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Missouri in 1953, Dick went to work for the Chicago Daily Drovers Journal. In 1954, Dick’s former MU advisor invited him to apply for a writing job in the College of Agriculture. He completed a Masters in Journalism at MU in 1958 and earned his Ph.D. in Mass Communications from the University of Iowa in 1967. Dick advanced from assistant agricultural editor to full professor to Director of Extension Information. After more than 34 years at the University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Journalism, he retired as a Department Chair.

Dick led MU’s agricultural journalism program to become one of only three nationally accredited programs. He started the agricultural communications conference, the agricultural photo school, investigative reporting in agriculture, and the professional in the classroom programs, to name but a few of his innovations in the field of agricultural journalism and mass communications.

As Department Chair, as well as a graduate advisor, Dick mentored many special students. One of his favorites was Jerry Litton, who had been president of the Missouri FFA Association, a successful breeder of Charlois cattle, and a US Representative. In 1972, Litton had just been elected to the US Senate, when he and his family were killed in a tragic aircraft accident. The Animal Science Research Center was named in Jerry Litton’s honor. Other outstanding students included Rich Krumme, editor of Successful Farming, Frank Holdmeyer, editor of Wallace’s Farmer, and Charleen Isgrig, editor of Farm Journal.

Dick has received numerous professional awards and citations. He is most proud of the Professional Award, the ACE, from the Agricultural Communicators in Education, a 700 member international society. This, their highest honor, is given to only one individual annually. He has also been awarded the Superior and Excellence awards in Communications Training from the same organization; the Epsilon Sigma Phi distinguished service award; the administration award of merit from the Missouri chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta; and the distinguished service award from the Missouri Future Farmers of America, to name only a few.

As executive producer of “Rivers“, a film concerned with water resources, Dick received the Council of Non-theatrical Events Golden Eagle Award. As well, he was the recipient of that same council’s award for writing the text “From Field to Font: The Story of Soybean Oil Ink.”

It is important to the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors Foundation to have excellence in the publications we use. It is our duty to honor those persons who lead and serve the Missouri dairy industry. We thank Dr. Richard L. Lee by recognizing his valuable contributions to the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors Foundation with our Meritorious Service Award.