AUSTIN, Texas — It may be no cover of Sports Illustrated, but Bobby Lackey seemed just as pleased to garner this year’s Award of Merit from the Texas Vegetable Association.

Lackey, formerly of J.S. McManus Produce Inc., Weslaco, received the award Aug. 21 at the Texas Produce Convention at the Omni Hotel in Austin.

Texas citrus, vegetable veterans garner awards

Pamela Riemenschneider

Bobby Lackey, (left), of J. S. McManus Produce, received the Texas Vegetable Association’s Award of Merit, and Dave Hardison of D&D Farms, received the Texas Citrus Mutual’s Special Award at the Texas Produce Convention in Austin on Aug. 21.

A football standout from the Rio Grande Valley, Lackey led the Texas Longhorns as quarterback to victory over Southern Methodist University that started the reign of legendary coach Darrell K. Royal. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in November 1959.

Instead of continuing his football career — he was drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers — Lackey chose family and started working for his father-in-law’s company, J.S. McManus Produce in the onion shed in 1960.

Lackey was an original member of the South Texas Onion Committee and the South Texas Melon Committee and president of the Texas Citrus and Vegetable Association in 1976 and 1977.

TCM Special Award

Even though he made his living in the agrichemical industry, the Texas Citrus Mutual’s Special Award recipient has always been proud to be a citrus grower.

“There’s just something special about the citrus industry,” said Dave Hardison, this year’s award recipient.

After working in the agrichemical industry in north Texas for several years, Hardison settled in the Rio Grande Valley. He co-founded a citrus farm, D&D Farms, mission, and has been a member of TCM’s board of directors for 19 years.

Hardison also served as King Citrus — the citrus industry’s annual festival honoree.