LISBON, Ohio — The late Harold J. Thompson, of Wayne Township, and Harold A. Windram, of Salem Township, will be enshrined in the Columbiana County Agriculture Hall of Fame for their contributions to agriculture and the greater Columbiana County community.
The ceremonies will be held during the Columbiana County Fair, at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 3, in the Arts & Crafts Building. The honorees’ families will also be honored, and framed portraits and biographical sketches of each individual will be unveiled.
The biographies of the previous inductees are permanently displayed in the Arts & Crafts Building. The Hall of Fame is a joint effort of the Columbiana County Historical Association, the Columbiana County Agricultural Society and the Columbiana County Farm Bureau. The awards are presented posthumously.
Harold J. Thompson
From his earliest days as a child, Harold Thompson was devoted to the only career — the only life — he ever considered: farming.
Thompson was born in Carroll County, but when he graduated from high school in 1944, he and his father, James, bought 100 acres in Gavers, Wayne Township. Then the following year, he purchased another 200 acres, and the foundation of Thompson Farms Inc. was formed.
The young Thompson managed the farm and started growing table stock potatoes, installing an underground irrigation system and a grading and wash system, which were both innovative in the region at that time. The potatoes were sold to A&P in Pittsburgh and other retailers, but eventually the farm landed a contract with the Frito Lay and Wise potato chip companies.
In 1949, Harold and his wife, Shirley, expanded into Hereford cattle, and by 1968, the feedlot had grown to 262 head. A fire in 1972 destroyed the cattle barn and feedlot, but Thompson rebuilt, and increased the number of steers to 300 and the number of brood cows to 120.
Over the years, he experimented with other breeds before buying 20 registered Angus cows from Summitcrest Farms. In the 1990s, Angus genetics took over a larger portion of the cow herd, which at its peak numbered 150 head.
Thompson built a successful row crop farm, raising corn, wheat, soybeans, buckwheat and canola — expanding Thompson Farms to 1,000 acres. He also diversified into 21 acres of strawberries, first raising for local farmers markets and retail stores, then transforming it into a pick-your-own business.
The innovative farmer was committed to strengthening the agricultural community, and was active in the Columbiana County Fair steer committee; Columbiana-Mahoning-Trumbull Cattlemen’s Association and Ohio Cattlemen’s Association; Carroll County Beef Producers; Ohio Potato Association; and the Columbiana County Farm Bureau.
He was the chairman of the Columbiana-Mahoning Berry Producers and the Columbiana-Mahoning Potato Growers Association, and served as an elder at the Bethel Presbyterian Church.
His lifelong commitment earned Thompson numerous accolades, including the Columbiana Soil and Water Conservation District’s Cooperator of the Year award; Lisbon Ruritan Club Farmer of the Year; Cleveland Farmers Club Distinguished Service To Agriculture Award; Columbiana- Mahoning-Trumbull Cattlemen’s Association’s Cattleman of the Year; Columbiana County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award; and Farm Credit Services Heritage Farm Award.
Harold A. Windram
Harold Windram’s career as a leader and an educator took him beyond Columbiana County, but his roots remained here in the farmland. Windram was born and raised on a 50-acre general farm on Leetonia Road in Salem Township, and enlisted in the U.S. Army at 18, serving in World War II from 1942 to 1944.
He returned to the farm, then earned a degree in agriculture, with a minor in education, in 1949 from The Ohio State University. He started his first vocational agriculture teaching position in 1950 at Northwestern High School in Wayne County, then, after several years, accepted a position as an OSU Extension agent in Delaware County. But the lure of classroom teaching was too strong, and Windram returned to northeastern Ohio to teach vo-ag in Carrollton and develop a strong FFA program there.
At the same time, he traveled back and forth from Carrollton to help his now widowed mother on the farm.
When a position opened up in the Lisbon school district, Windram accepted it, in order to better operate the crop farm, and build a small herd of Hereford cattle and flock of sheep.
During his time in Lisbon (1960-1966), he also built the district’s vo-ag and FFA programs.
He later moved into an administration position in Carrollton, and capped his career as an elementary principal in the Shelby (Ohio) City School District, retiring in 1980, and eventually returned to Columbiana County.
During his career, Windram also served as president of both the Carrollton Ruritan Club and the East Central Ohio Educators Association, sold Nationwide Insurance, and even drove school bus.
Whether in the classroom or on the farm, Windram was a compassionate neighbor and leader, guiding and inspiring successful farmers in Columbiana County and generations of students elsewhere — always teaching in both word and deed.
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