As newly appointed executive director of the North Carolina Cotton Growers Association, David Parrish says he had hoped to grow into the job as long-time Director Billy Carter gradually moved into retirement.

Unfortunately, Carter a one-time award winning North Carolina cotton farmer and long-time head of the state’s grower association, died on Jan. 1 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.

Replacing a legend is never easy, under any circumstances, but losing a long-time friend and professional mentor in such a sudden and tragic set of circumstances makes Parrish’s job even tougher.

Carter had hand-picked the North Carolina native as his replacement and had the unofficial okay from the North Carolina Cotton Growers Association Board to hire Parrish as his assistant. That arrangement would likely have been made official at the cotton growers’ 60th annual meeting in New Bern in January.

Instead, David Parrish was named to the leadership position. His steep learning curves, he says, will be made a lot easier by an experienced group of grower/leaders, whose positions were also confirmed at the recent annual meeting in New Bern.

Officers for the North Carolina Cotton Growers Association for 2011 include, Gary Respess, a long-time cotton farmer and ginner from Pantego, N.C. Respess says he is confident David Parrish is the right man for the job. “Billy Carter left some big shoes, but I’m confident David will fit right in and do a great job for our growers,” Respess says.

Other North Carolina Cotton Grower Associaton leaders include: David Grant, vice-president, from Garysburg, N.C.; Donny Lassiter, secretary, from Conway, N.C.; David Dunlow, treasurer, from Gaston, N.C.; Ronnie Burleson, immediate past president, from Richfield, N.C.; Edgar Edens, from Red Springs, N.C. and Taylor Slade, from Williamston, N.C., executive committee members.

Parrish says he knows the road will be tough, but feels confident because of the willingness of leaders on the board of directors to help him learn the ropes. “Cotton has been a part of my business life — for all my business life,” he says.

He began his career in cotton before he graduated from high school, working for legendary North Carolina Cotton Consultant Danny Pearce. “I worked for Danny for several years from high school until I graduated from North Carolina State University.