Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association

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KySGGA Mourns the Loss of Influential Farm Leader

Photo by Sharon Burton, The Farmer’s Pride.

Photo by Sharon Burton, The Farmer’s Pride.

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Don Halcomb, one of Kentucky agriculture's most influential farmer leaders.

Don was instrumental in organizing the Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association and served as the first president in 1989. Once he saw the passage of the Small Grain referendum, he served as chairman of the Small Grain Promotion Council for more than 25 years. Under his leadership, Kentucky’s small grain growers invested $3.3 million dollars in wheat and small grain research, initiated a endowed chair program to ensure Kentucky wheat breeding research continues at the University of Kentucky, and developed a successful business relationship with Siemer Milling.

Don also had a vision that paved the way for the creation of the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence. See his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony.

In 2017, Don was awarded UK Wheat Science Service Award.

We appreciate his many contributions and know he will be deeply missed.

Please keep his family in your prayers.

Remembrance by Dave Van Sanford, UK Professor and Wheat Breeding Specialist

Don Halcomb, visionary grain farmer from Schochoh, Kentucky, was laid to rest on January 21, 2019. His passing has given the members of our Wheat Science team cause to reflect on the ways in which he influenced our group and the ways in which he impacted wheat production in Kentucky. Don had a unique ability to ask big questions and challenge those around him to think bigger too. He urged us to study no-till wheat, to focus on scab resistant wheat varieties, and to assess the impact of a changing climate on wheat production and profitability. It was Don Halcomb who said that wheat varieties should be released like open source software, giving birth to the Pembroke brand of wheat varieties. And most recently, Don provided the spark that led to the Wheat Field Schools. The core of the Wheat Science group has existed under various names for close to 40 years, but it was guidance from Don that nudged us in the direction of more cohesive teamwork. We had worked as individual scientists, we shared the outcomes of our experiments with the group, but out of respect for one another, we were reluctant to step too far out of our disciplinary boundaries in asking hard questions. Don Halcomb helped us under-stand that by asking those tough questions, and working to understand each other’s research, we could only make our group better – and that would ultimately be better for the wheat industry we serve. He set a good ex-ample, by challenging every one of us with tough questions whenever we talked! Along with his spirited challenges came unending support and friendship to all of us in the group. Like many in Kentucky’s agricultural community, we will miss him.

Don Halcomb
November 24, 1952 – January 16, 2019

Don Halcomb was a grower.  He grew crops, he grew his family, he grew gardens, and he grew his community.  From rural Kentucky roots in the early 1950’s he went on to know and appreciate the world.  Much of this was thanks to a strong mother who taught him to be a restless adventurer.  He began farming at age 5 with a runt pig in a burlap sack.  His parents Hazel and Will Frank, drove him to Purdue University in the fall of 1970 and set him on a distinguished path of agricultural leadership. Doing what everyone else was doing didn’t suit Don.  He had to strike out in a different direction.  His next steps were to build a business and a family.  He pursued both tirelessly and with the faithful companionship of his wife Meredith.  Together they instilled family values, a thirst for knowledge, and a love of travel in their sons Sam and John.  Don developed his leadership skills and sought leadership opportunities.  He liked to work behind the scenes while maintaining a clear vision of the ultimate goal.  He served on agricultural boards, but was most proud of his efforts supporting education, Scouting, and most recently the Boys and Girls Club of Franklin-Simpson. Don didn’t expect to change the world in short order.  He intended to improve his community for future generations thereby planting seeds that would have a far-reaching and positive impact. Don died peacefully at his home in Schochoh, KY. He is survived by his wife Meredith, sons Sam (Stephanie) and John (Sarah) and beloved grandchildren Everett, Sydney, Lizzie, George, and Kate. All reside locally and work on the family farm.  Don was a long time friend of the Franklin Presbyterian Church in Franklin, KY. 

Visitation will be held there on Sunday, January 20, 2019 from 3-7 pm and Monday, January 21st from 12:00-1:30 pm. The funeral service will follow at the church with burial at the family’s cemetery on Halcomb Rd.

The Halcomb Family believes strongly in the work of the Boys and Girls Club of Franklin-Simpson and requests that memorial gifts be directed there.  Boys & Girls Club of Franklin-Simpson, 103 S. Court Street, Franklin, KY 42134.  

Crafton Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.  Online condolences may be made at 


Sunday, January 20, 2019
3:00 to 7:00 PM

Funeral Service
Monday, January 21, 2019
1:30 PM

Franklin Presbyterian Church
201 N. College Street
Franklin, Kentucky 42134

Jennifer Elwell