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Tribute to Owen Taylor and Debra Ferguson

Sadly, I recently learned that Owen Taylor and Debra Ferguson were tragically killed in an auto accident near Batesville, Miss. on Dec. 9, 2020. Owen and Debra had been married for 46 years, and worked as a team to produce excellent written and pictorial content for the agricultural community. They were both natives of the Miss. Delta–Owen from Rosedale and Debra from Skene.

Owen was a well-known agricultural writer, and was best known for his creation of AgFax. Debra was best known through her award-winning photography of the rural farming South. Together, they produced content for AgFax, which in my opinion was the gold standard of the agricultural communication industry. Anything that was currently important to agriculture was cited, linked, or written about in AgFax. I was one of its most avid users, and clicked on many of the linked articles to keep up with the business of agriculture.

I had the privilege and honor of working with both Owen and Debra during my 30-year career at Stoneville, and later during my tenure with the Miss. Soybean Promotion Board (MSPB). Owen wrote numerous articles that cited my research with soybeans in the Miss. Delta, and both Owen and Debra graciously linked several of my MSPB articles on AgFax because they felt that the content of those articles was important for Midsouth soybean producers. I often consulted with Owen on writing issues and appropriateness of content for articles I was contemplating.

I thought so much of their work that I nominated them for an Outstanding Service Award from the Tri-State Soybean Forum. They were selected to receive that award in 2013 when it was presented to them at that organization’s annual meeting in Stoneville that year. This was my way of recognizing their contribution to the Midsouth agricultural sector, and I was proud to have been there to present them with that award (click here for picture of them receiving award).

Rest in Peace, Owen and Debra. You two truly exemplified what friends, colleagues, and communicators should be. You both will be missed, but your contributions will live on for years to come through your writings, products, and pictures that were so professionally presented.

Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, Dec. 2020,