Hoosier Ag Today has learned that Mauri Williamson, one of the most dynamic and influential voices in Indiana agriculture, has died after a battle with cancer. Williamson was Executive Director of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association for many years and was the creator and driving force behind the Pioneer Village exhibit at the Indiana State Fair. Williamson also founded the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry, an annual gathering of Purdue Ag Alumni and the Hoosier farming community, which will be held this weekend. Details and final arrangements have not yet been released.
Indiana ag leaders reacted with sadness as word of Williamson’s death spread on Monday. Don Villwock, former Indiana Farm Bureau President, stated, “This morning I lost one of my best friends and mentor. Indiana lost one of the greatest agricultural leaders and storytellers of all time. Purdue lost its greatest ambassador.”
Ted McKinney, director of ISDA told HAT, “I was fortunate to know Mauri since college days, notably through those fun, zany Fish Fries of the Day. He was a mentor, a friend, and, most notably, developed the Purdue Ag Alumni Association into one unparalleled in the U.S. We cannot and shall not forget his contributions to Indiana agriculture and all of us must build on his legacy.”
Cindy Hoye, executive director of the Indiana State Fair said, “Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fair is the envy of State Fairs throughout the country. The partnership Mauri created with Purdue Ag Alumni, the passion he put into every single Fair, the love he had for agriculture, and the magical gift he had to rally the troops to follow him ‘down the path’ will never be replaced. However, we pledge to forever treasure, protect, and grow his beloved Pioneer Village for generations to come.”
A man of great vision, boundless energy, and endless stories, Williamson made a long-lasting impression on Indiana agriculture and on the lives of many of its leaders. The Purdue Alumni Fish Fry typically draws over 2,000 people to the State Fairgrounds each year. While he will not be physically present this year, Mauri Williamson’s spirit will fill the hall and stories and reminiscences will be shared by those in attendance.