FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
William “Bill” Darr was presented with the Key to the City by Springfield Mayor Ken McClure at a ceremony earlier today. A humanitarian, philanthropist, child advocate, entrepreneur and higher education champion are just a few of the descriptors used to refer to the long-time Springfieldian.
Over the years, Darr has continually given back to his alma mater, Missouri State University, particularly the Darr College of Agriculture, aptly named after him.
Born and raised on a livestock farm in Ellington, agriculture has always been part of Darr’s life. His passion for the field, combined with his strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, led him to achieve success in agribusiness.
Darr, who is a Korean War veteran, credits his start in agribusiness to the agriculture education he received in the 1950s at then-Southwest Missouri State Teacher's College (now Missouri State University) He worked for Henningsen Foods, a dehydrated food company for 16 years. In 1974, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to Jackson, Mississippi, where he opened his first company, Pets and Such, with two partners. After nearly four years as the company’s president, he founded American Dehydrated Foods, Inc. (ADF) in 1978 and moved back to Springfield in 1979.
Now, over 40 years later, Darr’s companies, along with ADF, also include International Dehydrated Foods, Inc., Food Ingredients Technology Company and IsoNova Technologies. All four companies specialize in dehydrated food products.
“In addition to being an innovative entrepreneur, providing local jobs and supporting the community for decades, Bill is compassionate and caring, creative and thoughtful,” said Mayor Ken McClure. “Darr and his wife, Virginia, whom he married in 1988, 40 years after they first met, dedicate their lives to making the communities they are a part of better.”
The Darrs have created many scholarships to help students pursue higher education, especially those from Ellington and those desiring to study at the Darr College of Agriculture. They established the Darr Family Foundation in 2002 to continue Darr’s commitment of supporting people in need. To date, it has awarded more than $2.7 million in grant funding to local organizations serving at-risk children. In 2018, the foundation allotted 60% of annual funding to an early childhood education and literacy initiative. The aim is to improve kindergarten readiness and literacy skills among Springfield children ages birth through third grade.
Darr is the third person to receive the Key to the City from Mayor McClure. Other recipients include the late Dr. Robert Spence and Johnny Morris. For details on the award, visit springfieldmo.gov/key.
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For more information, contact Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, at 417-380-3352 or [email protected].