It is with the saddest regret that we announce that Ralph Paige, former Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, died Thursday, June 28th. Mr. Paige served as Executive Director for 30 years from 1985 to 2015. He began working for the Federation in 1969 and served the organization for 46 years.
During his thirty years as Executive Director, he built the Federation into the premier organization representing Black farmers and low-income rural people in the South. He helped to organize 70 cooperatives and 18 community development credit unions during his tenure as Executive Director. He supported the development of the Federation’s unique Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama, including an agro-forestry component and forestry demonstrations.
He spearheaded efforts from the mid-1990’s forward to file suit against the USDA for discrimination in credit, conservation and rural development. These efforts led to the historic Pigford I and Pigford II class action cases, which became the largest successful discrimination lawsuits against the U. S. Federal government and yielded $2.5 billion in payments to thousands of Black farm families. He also supported discrimination settlements for Native American, Hispanic and Women farmers who were also subjected to discrimination by USDA.
He worked on legislation to reform farm and rural policies to allow for the formation of the National Co-op Bank, creation of the Section 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, expansion of farm credit to include Micro-loans, appropriate to family-size farming operations; and the creation of the Rural Cooperative Development Program to support cooperative development and training centers, like the Federation’s at Epes.
His greatest legacy is that the Federation has continued and flourished, celebrating its 50th anniversary in August 2017. A succession plan that he initiated has replaced the ‘founding generation of core staff’ with a new generation of capable leadership to guide the organization for the next generation and into the future.
Ralph served on many boards and received many honors in his lifetime. Among the Boards were: Nationwide Insurance Company, National Cooperative Business Association, Cooperative Development Foundation, Cooperative Business International, the President’s (George Bush) Twenty-first Century Agriculture Commission, Rural Policy Advisory Committee to President Barack Obama and many more.
He received numerous awards including induction in to the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2004, Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from SCLC, George Washington Carver Hall of Fame at Tuskegee, Congressional Black Caucus Leadership Award, NCBA Co-op Month Leadership Award and many others.
Ralph leaves to cherish his memory Bernice, his wife of 51 years, two children, Bernard and Kenyatta, five grand children and many relatives and friends.
Read more about his legacy on the Capital Campaign website.
Thursday, July 5, 2018
The wake will be held at the Warren Temple United Methodist Church (416 E Depot St, LaGrange, GA, 30241) from 6-8:00 p.m. (EST)
Friday, July 6, 2018
The home going service will be held at New Community Church (1200 S Davis Rd, LaGrange, GA, 30241) at 11:00 a.m. (EST)
The interment will be held at Restlawn Memorial Gardens located at 2098 Mooty Bridge Rd, LaGrange, GA, 30240
Flowers can be sent to West Georgia Mortuary, 1408 Hamilton Road, LaGrange, GA, 30240