Charles W. Wampler Jr., founder of Wampler Foods Inc. and a poultry industry leader, died January 15 at age 101.
Wampler was born November 25, 1915, on Sunny Slope Farm in Dayton, Virginia. He died at his home on the same farm.
He graduated from Dayton High School and attended Bridgewater College and Rutgers University. In 1937, he began working for Wampler Feed and Seed Co., which eventually was sold to Pilgrim’s Pride, and later became president and general manager of Wampler-Longacre. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of WLR Foods, and retired in 1998 as its chairman emeritus.
He married Dorothy Liskey Wampler in 1938.
In 1949, Wampler helped start the Rockingham County Fair, and served as its president and general manager for 25 years. He served as vice president of the Virginia State Fair, and later president of the Virginia Association of Fairs. From 1954 to 1966, he represented Harrisonburg and Rockingham County in the Virginia House of Delegates.
He was chairman of the board of Rockingham Memorial Hospital, and rector of the board at James Madison University, where he helped to establish the Arboretum. He served on the board of visitors at Virginia Tech, and was chairman of Virginia State Board of Agriculture and Commerce. He helped to start the United Way in 1949 and continued working on its fundraising campaigns for many years.
In 1954, Wampler took 3,000 poults and 30,000 chicks to Turkey. The Turkish government was planning to start a poultry industry there, and he agreed to help them. He called local hatcheries, who agreed to donate the chicks and poults. With the help of his friend Welby Spencer, the poults and chicks were loaded into a van and taken to the airport. Six thousand miles later in Istanbul, farmers were waiting to take them home. The Turkish Ambassador called to thank him and said, “Now you will be recognized as the only man who ever took turkeys to Turkey!”
Wampler served as a volunteer in the dining room at RMH/Sentara. He continued to “go to work” up until two weeks before his death. Over his lifetime, he donated 171 pints of blood to the RMH Blood Bank and Virginia Blood Services. According to VBS, his donations benefited more than 500 people.
He loved tennis and played regularly until he was 96. He coached tennis at Bridgewater College for several years.
He was preceded in death by his wife; father, Charles Wampler, Sr.; and mother, Sadie Zigler Wampler. He is survived by three daughters, Libby (Harry) Jarrett, Barbara (Tom) Melby, and Margaret Smith; eight grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; two sisters, Elizabeth “Libby” Custer and Margaret Strate; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater, Virginia, on Saturday, January 21 at 2 p.m. Burial will be private.
Memorials may be made to the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County United Way, First Presbyterian Church Visitation Ministry, the Arboretum at JMU, or a charity of choice.