Donald “Buddy” Wray, one of the legendary Tyson Foods officers who helped Don Tyson grow a regional poultry operation into a multibillion global food company, is one of four new members of the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame Board announced Thursday (Oct. 9) Al Bell, Stephen LaFrance Sr., Millie Ward and Wray will join the 66 other members of the Hall of Fame. The formal induction ceremony will be held on Feb. 13, 2015, at the Convention Center in Little Rock.
The Arkansas Business Hall of Fame is housed in the atrium of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development at the Walton College on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.
“We are pleased to welcome another distinguished group of business leaders to the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame,” Walton College Dean Eli Jones said. “They join an exceptional list of inductees who have been recognized among the best in Arkansas business. The outstanding achievements of these four, just as all of the hall of fame’s current members, will have an impact on the future business leaders in Arkansas and around the world.”
Greg Lee, a Walton College alumnus and the retired chief administrative officer and international president of Tyson Foods, chaired the selection process. Criteria for selection included: the significance of the impact made as a business leader, the concern demonstrated for improving the community and the display of ethics in all business dealings. In addition, living inductees must be over the age of 60.
Al Bell, who as an executive and owner of Stax records made the Memphis Sound a major part of pop music in the 1960s and 1970s. In his more than a half-century in the music business, Bell has worked with artists such as Otis Redding, Issac Hayes, Booker T and the MGs, Sam and Dave, Rufus Thomas and the Staple Singers. Bell was involved in shaping the evolving sound of the Staples and wrote one of their biggest hits “I’ll Take You There.”
Stephen L. LaFrance Sr., who built USA Drug from one store into the largest privately owned chain of drugstores in the United States. In 2012, shortly before LaFrance died, Walgreens acquired USA Drug for more than $550 million.
Millie Ward, who is co-founder and president of Stone Ward, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Little Rock and Chicago. The agency brought in more than $47 million in capitalized billings last year.
Wray served in several executive positions over decades with Tyson Foods, including chief operating officer and executive vice president and special assistant to the president and CEO. He joined the management of the Tyson plant in Rogers and then was made manager of the company’s first processing plant in Springdale. Wray was part of a small team of Tyson principals who managed acquisition growth and played a pivotal role in Tyson’s product development, sales and marketing through the 1970s and 80s.
He was named chief operating officer, overseeing all operations including live poultry production, processing and sales. In 1991, Wray was promoted to president and held that office until he retired in 2000. He was a member of the Tyson board of directors from 1994-2003 and came out of retirement in 2008 to serve as executive vice president – special assistant to the president and chief executive officer.
Wray was named University of Arkansas Distinguished Alumni of the Year in 2000. In 2004, the university established the Donald “Buddy” Wray Chair in Food Safety in the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture. In 2012, Wray was named by the Northwest Arkansas Community College as a “Quality of Life” honoree, which recognizes individuals for their leadership in building and sustaining an excellent quality of life in northwest Arkansas. He was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2012.