A TRIBUTE TO THE LIFE OF DON GILKEY; Congressional Record Vol. 155, No. 98
(Extensions of Remarks - June 26, 2009)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1625]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                             HON. JIM COSTA

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                         Friday, June 26, 2009

  Mr. COSTA. Madam Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the life of 
an agricultural icon in California, Mr. Don Gilkey of Corcoran, 
California. Don passed away on May 24, 2009 at the age of 74. He is 
survived by his wife of 52 years, Moonyeen Gilkey, three children and 
several grandchildren.
  Don Gilkey was born on February 3, 1935 in Corcoran, California to 
Margaret and Ralph Gilkey. Don graduated in 1952 from Corcoran High 
School. In 1953 he left for the University of California, Berkeley, 
where he played football and rugby all four years of college. Don was a 
lineman and punter for the Cal Berkeley Bears and in 1956 was voted the 
team captain. He was named First Team All Pacific Coast and Second Team 
A.P. All-American. In August 1956, during his senior year, Don married 
the love-of-his life, Moonyeen Apperson, and they spent their first 
year of marriage in Berkeley while Don finished college. After 
graduating from Cal, Don spent a short period of time as an officer 
with the U.S. Army. Upon returning, Don declined several offers to 
become a professional football player, deciding instead to return home 
to Corcoran where he would become an integral part of the family 
farming business.
  In 1958, Don became a partner with his brother Charles and brothers-
in-law Don Riddle and Ken DeVaney in the family farming operation. Soon 
thereafter, the family partnership grew to include another brother-in-
law, Bill Bondurant. During his farming career, Don farmed cotton, 
grain, alfalfa and raised turkeys. In 1962, the family farming 
operation was such a success they decided to build their own cotton gin 
and the company went on to successfully bale 30,000 to 60,000 bales per 
year at their peak.
  In 1966, one of Don's many community efforts became a reality when a 
new football stadium was built. In appreciation of Don's efforts, the 
following year the community of Corcoran overwhelmingly named Don 
Gilkey as their ``Citizen of the Year''. His community involvement was 
boundless. For many years, Mr. Gilkey served on the board of directors 
for Lakeland Dusters Aviation and Commercial Tire. He was a three-term 
board member and president of the Corcoran Unified School District 
board of trustees, president of the Corcoran Chamber of Commerce, 
member of the Corcoran Hospital Foundation, a lifelong member and 
trustee of the Corcoran First United Methodist Church, a long time 
member of Corcoran's Rotary Club, board member of the California Wheat 
Commission and the California Wheat Growers Association, past delegate 
to the National Cotton Council, member of Class V of the California 
Agricultural Leadership Program and for several years Don served as a 
board member of the California Ammonia Company. Don was honored as a 
member of the ``65 Club'', a select group of farmers chosen for their 
achievement in agriculture production, farm and community leadership. 
This special honor was given to him in 1982 in Washington, D.0 by then 
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John R. Black during the National 
Agriculture Day ceremonies.
  It goes without saying that Mr. Don ``Donnie'' Gilkey's dedication to 
his family, the family farm and his community have earned him a legacy 
of respect and enormous appreciation from Central Valley farmers, the 
Corcoran community and the agriculture industry. He will forever be 
remembered as ``Don Gilkey, The Big Man with the Big Heart''. I am 
honored and humbled to celebrate the life of this amazing man and 
agricultural icon.