(Jan. 6, 11:40 a.m.) Growers and colleagues remember Delwin Dowdy as a pioneer in the Vidalia onion deal.

Dowdy, 69, owner of Dowdy Farms, Reidsville, Ga., died Jan. 4 after a long battle with cancer.

Visitation is scheduled for 9 a.m., Jan. 7 at the Brannen-Kennedy Funeral Home in Glennville, Ga., with services scheduled for 11 a.m. at Glennville First Baptist Church.

Dowdy began growing Vidalia onions during the early- to mid-1970s. Beginning with three acres, his farm eventually expanded to more than 400 acres.

“Delwin was a very likeable person. He didn’t meet any strangers,” said Delbert Bland, president of Bland Farms, Glennville. “He didn’t have anyone who didn’t like him as a person. I know when a lot of people die, everyone says that, but I can say that about Delwin and truly mean it. Everyone respected Delwin tremendously.”

Dowdy won the Vidalia Onion Grower of the Year award in 1996. He retired in 2005.

“Mr. Dowdy was significant to our industry and his death is a real loss,” said Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee, Vidalia. “He has been growing and promoting Vidalias since they first came on the scene and was in fact a part of their burgeoning popularity.”

Dowdy is survived by his wife, Mary Dowdy, two children, including Devory Dowdy, who remains involved with the growing and packing operation, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, a nephew, several nieces and a brother and a sister.

Remembrances can be sent to Hospice Savannah, Box 13190, Savannah, Ga., 31416.

Vidalia onion pioneer Delwin Dowdy dies