Mize receives Agricultural Pioneer of the year award

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - (News Release) - Charles Ray Mize is the recipient of the 2011 Pete Smith Agricultural Pioneer Award.

The award is sponsored by Heritage Land Bank at the 10th Annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet.

"Ray and Gayla Mize were a special part of making SFA's garden world such a big success," said Dr. David Creech, SFA Gardens director. "Both were here when there was no staff, no tractors, no budget and no credibility - just a small patch of ground with a few students, wheelbarrows, shovels and a few energetic folks trying to make a bigger garden. Ray and Gayla loved being part of this gardening adventure, and they both shared the vision that Nacogdoches and SFA would someday be a great garden spot in the Deep South."

From birth on July 6, 1930, Mize has lived in Nacogdoches and been involved in the cattle ranching field for more than 60 years, working on Mize Ranches. His contributions to the agriculture industry includes serving on the Soil and Water Conservation Board for more than 30 years, hosting numerous county high school Future Farmers Association Field Days on Chireno Ranch and serving as an original founder on the Board of Lake Naconiche.

Mize attended Nacogdoches Demonstration School on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus and then attended SFA, graduating in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in business.

Mize married Gayla Johnson Mize on Aug. 18, 1973. Gayla died Feb. 22, 2009. According to Mize's daughter Lysa Hagen, he was the behind the scenes support for Gayla in her quest to beautify historic Nacogdoches. "He supplied much of the labor for Gayla as she worked on the downtown Plaza Principal project," said Hagen.

Mize established the Gayla Mize Garden through SFA, and he was instrumental in supporting his cousin Dorothy Wisely with the creation of SFA's Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden.

Mize is a member of First Methodist Church. His family includes sister Virginia Mize Abernathy; daughter Hagen and her husband Bill; son, Jimmy Mize, and his wife, Lisa; four grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.