The beloved operator of a longtime Barrow County family farm died Saturday, leaving family, friends and the community to grieve.
William J. Hutchins was 63 when he died at home of lung-related problems.
“We just lost a good person,” said Ray Fowler, president of the Barrow County Farm Bureau. “When you come to the end of the way and nothing but good things are said, that tells you what kind of life and influence he had on people.”
A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. today at Midway United Methodist Church in Auburn.
Hutchins was, among other things, a former member of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners and a member of the Georgia Farm Bureau and Barrow County Farm Bureau board of directors.
But his lifetime pursuit was being a cattle and hay farmer.
Doug Garrison, who met Hutchins when he came to Barrow County in 1975 as county agent, knew him well.
“He had just gotten out of (University of Georgia) at the time and was on the family farm growing hogs,” he said. “He is someone I had admired through the years and respected as a leader in the agriculture community.”
Linda Crumley also knew Hutchins through the Farm Bureau.
“He was a friend to agriculture. He was very supportive of 4-H and FFA,” she said. “He was just wonderful. We traveled together promoting education. Anything you mentioned doing to help the kids or promote farming, he was right there ready to do it.”
Fowler said Hutchins’ impact went far beyond the farm. It was personal, as well.
“If you were a dad, you’d want him for your son,” he said. “If you had a daughter, you want him to be your son-in-law. He was a good man.”
Hutchins never married, choosing to live with other family, including his parents, at the farm off Bankhead Highway between Auburn and Winder.
Joe Hutchins, his younger brother, described William as “a person that everybody fell in love with when they met him.
“He made everybody feel welcome. He was a very hard worker, very committed to any task he took on,” Hutchins said. “Anything he was involved in, he did with passion.”
Joe, a retired hospital CEO and pharmacist by profession, also remembered his brother as someone who treated others how he would want to be treated, and who approached death with quiet dignity.
“He knew, at the end, that his time had come,” his brother said. “And he was ready to go home and be with the Lord.”
Joe’s sons went into business with their uncle.
They’ll “do great and continue his legacy,” he said.