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Talladega County icon Jimmy Pursell passes away at age 89


SYLACAUGA Ala. – An iconic figure in Sylacauga and Talladega County history has died.

James “Jimmy” Taylor Pursell passed away Sunday at the age of 89.  He leaves behind a legacy which will never be forgotten.

Pursell was born on July 3, 1930, to Howard and Eunice Pursell.

Pursell attended Talladega High School, and after graduating from high school in 1948, he attended Auburn University, which was then called Alabama Polytechnical Institute. He graduated in 1952 with a degree in business administration, but joined the aviation cadet program to become a bombardier navigator in the armed forces.

In 1953, while stationed in Sacramento, Pursell married Christine “Chris” Parker, from Sylacauga, in the chapel at Mather Field Air Force Base. He served as a bombardier instructor and considered making his career in the military, but plans changed when Chris’ father, Howard Parker, offered Pursell a job working for Parker Fertilizer Company.

Howard Parker taught Pursell the family business, and educated him thoroughly about fertilizer and agriculture. Pursell helped market their new Sta-Green products by traveling around Alabama selling the fertilizer to garden centers, which soon expanded to hardware stores and nurseries all over the southeast. The lawn and garden portion of the company began to grow rapidly, while the agricultural business declined.

The Sta-Green trademark was federally registered in 1959, and Parker Fertilizer Company continued to increase its market share in the specialty fertilizer business while starting to expand into other regions of the country.

One of the milestones that set them apart from their competition was the development of slow-release and controlled-release fertilizers. The company worked closely with the Tennessee Valley Authority in the introduction of high-quality, sulfur-coated urea in 1973 and eventually built its own sulfur-coated urea plant, which thrust the company into the international arena and identified them as a leader in fertilizer technology.

Over the years, Pursell created several operating divisions in the organization to better serve the varied needs and demands of customers. The company became Pursell Industries and split into two separate entities in the late 1990s, but their goals and mission remained the same.

Pursell and his family sold the fertilizer company in 2006. The family then focused on operating Farmlinks golf course and Pursell Farms, one of the leading vacation spots in the nation.

Jimmy and Chris Pursell have two sons and a daughter: Taylor, Chris, and David, all of whom have had a hand in the family business.

“I was able to work for or alongside my father since 1971, including my entire business career,” said David Pursell. “He was an amazing mentor who had so many friends and admirers. He was a great man of faith, as well as excellence. He was also one of the most extroverted people I have ever been around. He passed away just before his 90th birthday and was still looking forward to the future. He was the centerpiece of Pursell Farms and presence here will certainly endure with the friendliness of our staff.”

Mr. Pursell will be missed dearly by family, friends and his extended Pursell Farms family.

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