The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation will present this year’s Legends Award to Springdale business leader Gary George. It recognizes leaders who’ve made significant contributions to Arkansas. Past honorees include John Paul Hammerschmidt, Frank Broyles, John Boozman, Pat Walker, Randy Veach, Asa Hutchinson, Judy McReynolds, Curt Bradberry, Mike Anderson, John Brown III and Sam Alley.
George is chairman of George’s Inc., a privately held, fully integrated poultry company, and Legacy National Bank, both of Springdale. He also serves on the boards of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Arkansas Children’s Northwest. In addition, he served 10 years (1995-2005) on the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees and was chairman during his final year.
A Springdale native, George began working summers in the family business. He went to work full-time in 1972 after graduating from the UA. He served as president, working alongside his father, Gene, for 14 years until becoming CEO in 1994. His twin sons, Carl and Charles, succeeded him in 2013, leading George’s to become one of America’s 10 largest integrated chicken producers.
Gary, his wife Robin, and the entire family support many regional and statewide endeavors. For example, in Northwest Arkansas, they were instrumental in the volunteer effort to establish Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale. It opened in February 2018. In addition, Gary and Robin George and David and Cathy (George) Evans donated the land where the hospital sits.
The foundation will honor George at the 12th annual Legends Dinner on Oct. 15 at the Heroncrest event venue in Elm Springs. Ticket information is available at BrandonBurlsworth.org.
The proceeds benefit the foundation, which helps underprivileged children through various programs such as Eyes of a Champion. It provides free eye exams and eyeglasses to students in pre-K through 12th grade throughout the state. The foundation says 96% of the families the foundation served last year were below the moderate-income level.
Marty Burlsworth is the founder, chairman and CEO of the foundation. He created the nonprofit to honor his younger brother. A walk-on turned All-American offensive lineman at the UA, Brandon Burlsworth, who wore black-rimmed glasses during games, died in a car accident in 1999, 10 days after the Indianapolis Colts drafted him in the third round of the NFL draft. He was traveling to Harrison from Fayetteville to go to church with this mother.