Today's Farmer alum in hall of fame

Written by TF Staff on .

Retired Today’s Farmer executive editor and MFA Director of Communications Chuck Lay was recently honored as a 2020 inductee to the Missouri Cooperative Hall of Fame. The award is traditionally presented during the Missouri Insti­tute of Cooperative’s annual meeting, which was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

During his 28-year tenure at MFA, Lay was responsible for the strategic planning and execution of MFA’s editorial and advertising direction. As editor of Today’s Farmer, he won nu­merous writing awards and became a leader in the Cooperative Communicators Association, a national organization.

Lay played a significant role in the Missouri Institute of Cooperatives over the years. He served on the Hall of Fame and Publicity committees and was the organization’s long-time secretary.

One of Lay’s great motivations was to archive and celebrate MFA’s long history. In 2012, when the cooperative began plan­ning in earnest for its 100th anniversary, MFA commissioned a history book. Lay got the job of researching and writing. The result was Proud Past, Bright Future, which was released to coincide with the anniversary. While other books had been written about MFA, the company’s history hadn’t been officially compiled since 1979.

Lay spent many hours at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection of the Missouri State Historical Society in Columbia, Mo.—the location housing the collected papers of MFA founder William Hirth and long-time president, Fred Heinkel.

Aside from the library work, Lay did extensive interviews with many MFA employees and retirees, including Ray Young, Eric Thompson, Bud Frew and Don Copenhaver—past MFA leaders with an in-depth knowledge of the cooperative’s inner workings and personalities.

Lay took pride in communicating for cooperatives. His work documenting MFA’s history mirrored his approach to writing for any publication—he wanted to get it down on paper, and he wanted to get it right. We congratulate him on joining the Missouri Cooperative Hall of Fame.

Copies of Proud Past, Bright Future are available for pur­chase at todaysfarmermagazine.com/shop.