Wharton County has lost one of its preeminent Ag men with the death of Robert “Bob” Little Thursday.
Little spent the lion’s share of his life as an integral part of county-wide rice production and is remembered as a man of honor and integrity.
“I guess I first met him when I was 15 or 16 and he would have been working at the co-op already, so I knew him for about 50 years. We were in Jaycees together and Lions together and we were both members of St. Philip’s (Catholic Church),” Texas Rice Council President Tommy Turner said.
As an active member of the Wharton County community, Little made a name for himself as someone willing to work and give back to his home town.
“As a perfect example, he was one of those to give back what you can. You know the passage, when someone asks you to carry them a mile, carry them two. When someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat as well. He was one of those people that lived that example. The last time I saw him was Wednesday morning and he was off to coach basketball at St. Philip’s. He was always doing those things for the community,” Turner said.
Little also served his community as a county official, serving as the chair of the Emergency Services District No. 4 until his death. The ESD 4 taxing district contracts with the City of El Campo to provide EMS services to West Wharton County in the form of ambulances and crews and board members are appointed by the county.
As an ag man, Little excelled, even being honored as 2015’s Ag Man of the Year at the Wharton County Youth Fair.
“I worked with Mr. Little for the last 11 years. I know that in his last 50 years with Rice Farmers (Co-op), he maintained a relationship with all extension agents in all the neighboring rice counties. They all have a fond memory of working with Bob. He has an immense knowledge of rice and also valued research in rice that helped him with his co-op members,” Wharton County Extension Agent Corrie Bowen said.
With his extensive time at Rice Farmers Co-op, Little helped many a local farmer set up their field for a successful year of planting.
“Eventually I became a board member at Rice Farmers and he was GM at the time, I worked closely with him then. He would check fields, you know, the co-op sold fertilizer and chemicals, part of the reason I was able to be as successful as I was as a rice farmer was his recommendations,” Turner said.
What resonated with community members was how Little carried himself, and acted as a man of integrity.
“What stands out is how he conducted his job as a manager with character. He’s an example for all the people that he impacted or crossed paths with, in El Campo and across the rice counties around us. How he conducted his job and his life was profound, he was a man of integrity. That’s how I’ll remember Bob. He was the real-deal; loyal, honest and trustworthy, he was all of that. He was all that both on and off the field. He truly loved El Campo, Texas, that’s why he did everything he did,” Bowen said.
His memory lives on in the people he spent his life around and the lessons he left them.
“He helped make me a better man, the example he set for the community, his faith in God and his family. He was a man you wanted to emulate,” Turner said.
His passion was evident is all his activity in the community.
“I think that what drives a person to live a life like Bob did was, he cared. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t have done the things he did … He truly cared about what he did,” Bowen said.