William Ralph Meredith, Jr.

Funeral services for William Ralph (Bill) Meredith, Jr., of Greenville will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 4 at First Baptist Church of Greenville. He died in his sleep at his home on July 2. Burial will be at Batesville Magnolia Cemetery, Batesville, MS at 3:00 Saturday afternoon. 

Bill was the son of the late Ralph and Ruby Meredith of Batesville, MS. After graduating from Batesville High School, he attended Sunflower Junior College in Moorhead, MS on a basketball scholarship. His education was interrupted when he was drafted into the military during the Korean War. He served in the 1st Calvary Division Headquarters in Hokkaido, Japan. After the war, he returned home and to Mississippi State University where he received his B.S. and M. S. degrees in Agronomy. He was inducted into Alpha Zeta honorary society at MS State. He then went to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and earned a PhD in Plant Breeding with a minor in Statistics. While at Cornell, he was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi honorary society. He taught two years at Mississippi State before moving to the Delta in 1964 to begin a career as a Research Scientist for the United States Agricultural Research Service. During his 46 year career at Stoneville, he was known for his concern for the cotton industry. His advocacy for scientific accuracy, his leadership and reputation placed him in constant demand as an advisor, consultant, and speaker. He attended cotton conferences in Argentina, Australia, Greece, Mexico and India as an invited speaker. 

Meredith’s most significant achievement was the discovery of the value of the “nectariless” trait of cotton which aided in controlling pest damage and reducing the need for insecticides. He was the only twice-awarded recipient of the Cotton Genetics Award presented by Cotton Incorporated in recognition of advances in the cotton industry. He was recognized as the Senior Scientist of the Year for ARS as well as nominated for the ARS Hall of Fame. His research in cotton continues through the sharing and use of germplasm lines developed in his research career. He served as the Chairman for the National Cotton Variety Testing Program’s Regional High Quality Test for over 40 years organizing, testing and evaluating lines with varied promising qualities to improve and enhance the US cotton crop. His research has been in more than 200 scientific publications which led to his recognition as one of the nations’ foremost cotton geneticists. He was an associate editor of Crop Science Journal. He was a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During his time at the Jamie Whitten Research Center, he was the Research Leader for Cotton and Soybeans and Location Coordinator. He served as Acting Mid South Area Director. He directed cotton and soybean research at Stoneville, New Orleans, LA and Jackson, TN. 

Meredith loved the Lord. He served as a Deacon Chairman, Finance Chairman and adult Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Greenville. He was blessed by being able to participate in mission trips to Montana, Alaska, and Belarus. After his retirement, he enjoyed studying God’s word with the members of Community Bible Study. He was the leader of the men’s class. 

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jerry Burnett Meredith. They had four daughters, Lauren Stokes of Columbus, Kathie (Paul) Eagles of Vicksburg, Diane Meredith of Madison, and Pat (Danny) Cox of Memphis. His grandchildren are Josh (Macy) Stokes of Southaven, Matthew Eagles of Huntsville, AL, James (Hannah) Eagles of Pearl, Mandi Stokes of Columbus, Ethan and Max Meredith of Madison, and Daniel and Cooper Cox of Memphis. He had three great-grandchildren. 

The family will receive friends from 9:00-10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 4 at First Baptist Church, Greenville. Dr. James Nichols will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, 407 Main Street, P. O. Box 1163, Greenville, MS 38701.