Donald E. "Buddy" Wray, former president and chief operating officer of Tyson Foods, has died.

Wray, started his career at Tyson Foods in 1961. He worked in a variety of managerial positions within the company before being named chief operating officer in 1992. In that capacity, he oversaw all operations, including live poultry production, processing and sales. About one year later, Wray became president and chief operating officer. He held that position until he retired in 2000. He served as a member of Tyson’s board of directors from 1994 to 2003, and he returned as an adviser to the company in 2008, and assumed a role as executive vice president and special assistant to the president and CEO from 2009 to 2014.

“Buddy Wray was a legendary figure at Tyson Foods,” said John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods. “From the earliest days of the growth of Tyson Foods, Buddy, along with my dad and Leland Tollett made the company succeed, from the early 1960s through the 1990s. He was instrumental in everything the company did for over 50 years. There is no way to express what Buddy meant to the company and thousands of its team members during that time. He was also a long-time dedicated Springdale community leader who will be missed by many and long remembered.”


Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, added: “Buddy was one of my mentors and I will miss his leadership, insight and especially his friendship. He earned the gratitude and respect of all of us here at Tyson Foods and we will never forget him.”

He was honored in 2000 as the University of Arkansas “Distinguished Alumni of the Year,” was selected “Man of the Year” by The Poultry Federation (TPF) in 1999, and was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2015, according to TPF.

Outside of his work with Tyson Foods, Wray was an active servant to a number of organizations, including the Jones Trust, the Endeavor Foundation, Arvest Bank of Springdale, the Care Foundation, the National Advisory Board for the American Studies Institute at Harding University, the Northwest Arkansas office of the American Heart Association, the dean’s advisory boards for the Sam M. Walton College of Business and College of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas, and the Board of Trustees of College of the Ozarks in Missouri.