Statement from Tyson president and chief executive officer, Donnie Smith:
It is with great sadness I report today the death of Don Tyson, former chairman and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods and a leading member of our company’s board of directors. Don passed away this morning at the age of 80 after a brief illness.
As noted in the obituary that follows, Don was known by all to work hard, but also to play hard. He was famous the world over for his “No Bad Days” outlook on life, and well known for telling everyone that “I don’t have time to have a bad time.” Don’s passing will be mourned by all who knew him, especially his family, his countless friends, and business leaders and associates in
A small, private family service has been planned and a public memorial service will be held at a later date. We will provide more details later.
Donald John Tyson, known to everyone as “Don,” son of Tyson Foods, founder John W. Tyson, and father of current company Chairman John H. Tyson, passed away today, Jan. 6, 2011, at the age of 80, after a brief illness. He was the formerchairman of the board and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, a company he led through phenomenal growth in the 1970s and 1980s.
Don Tyson was born on April 21, 1930, in
After high school in
Through most of the 1950s Don worked with his father to grow the family business, then known as Tyson Feed and Hatchery, supplying feed and baby chicks to local poultry producers in
Don had moved up progressively in the company leadership, being named president in 1966, and then becoming chairman and chief executive officer in 1967 when his father and step-mother were both tragically killed in an automobile-train accident in
In the late 1990s the company continued to grow, most notably with the acquisition of Hudson Foods in 1998. By this time, Don’s son John Tyson had succeeded Tollett as chairman of the board of the company and Don Tyson was named chairman emeritus. Don continued to provide guidance and support for the company’s leadership team, including Tyson’s 2001 acquisition of IBP, a purchase engineered by his son John. As a result of the acquisition, Tyson Foods, the largest poultry producer in the world, also became the largest beef processor and second largest pork processor, with annual revenues jumping from approximately $7.5 billion to more than $24 billion.
Don was well known for his active involvement in state and national politics, having been led by his father to believe that it was a citizen’s duty to take part in the political and electoral process.
He was a world renowned fisherman, a founder of the Billfish Foundation that promotes the catch and release of marlin and other billfish, and was a long time member and benefactor of the International Game Fish Association, a group that tracks and certifies world records for fishing.
Don also created and led the Tyson Family Foundation, which among other things provides scholarships for post secondary students from communities where Tyson Foods has operations. He has been a well known philanthropist in
Don was preceded in death by his father John W. and his step-mother Helen Knoll Tyson, as well as his mother Mildred Tyson; and, by his wife Twilla Jean Womochil Tyson and his brother Randal Tyson.
He is survived by his son, John Tyson and three daughters, Carla Tyson, Cheryl Tyson and Joslyn J. Caldwell-Tyson; his sister-in-law Barbara Tyson; as well as two grandchildren, John Randal Tyson and Olivia Laine Tyson; and, long-time friends Gloria Gray, Ramona Caldwell, Shelby Rogers and Melissa Ramsey.
Visitation will be Friday, Jan. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Sisco Funeral Home in
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Billfish Foundation, The Mayo Clinic and the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences at the
The Billfish Foundation,
The Mayo Clinic, 200
Source: Tyson Foods