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Mize named ag pioneer of the year
Posted 03 - 24 - 2011

NACOGDOCHES - Charles Ray Mize will receive the Pete Smith Agricultural Pioneer Award sponsored by Heritage Land Bank at the 10th Annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet, Monday evening, Apr. 4 at Banita Creek Hall.

"Ray and Gayla Mize were a special part of making SFA's garden world such a big success," said Dr. David Creech, SFA Gardens director. "Both were here when there was no staff, no tractors, no budget and no credibility - just a small patch of ground with a few students, wheelbarrows, shovels and a few energetic folks trying to make a bigger garden. Ray and Gayla loved being part of this gardening adventure, and they both shared the vision that Nacogdoches and SFA would someday be a great garden spot in the Deep South."

From birth on July 6, 1930, Mize has lived in Nacogdoches and been involved in the cattle ranching field for more than 60 years, working on Mize Ranches. His contributions to the agriculture industry includes serving on the Soil and Water Conservation Board for more than 30 years, hosting numerous county high school Future Farmers Association Field Days on Chireno Ranch and serving as an original founder on the Board of Lake Naconiche.

Mize attended Nacogdoches Demonstration School on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus and then attended SFA, graduating in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in business.

Mize married Gayla Johnson Mize on Aug. 18, 1973. Gayla died Feb. 22, 2009. According to Mize’s daughter Lysa Hagen, he was the behind the scenes support for Gayla in her quest to beautify historic Nacogdoches. “He supplied much of the labor for Gayla as she worked on the downtown Plaza Principal project,” said Hagen.

Mize established the Gayla Mize Garden through SFA, and he was instrumental in supporting his cousin Dorothy Wisely with the creation of SFA’s Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden.

Mize is a member of First Methodist Church. His family includes sister Virginia Mize Abernathy; daughter Hagen and her husband Bill; son, Jimmy Mize, and his wife, Lisa; four grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.


About the event

The 10th Annual Nacogdoches County Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet begins at 6 p.m., Monday, Apr. 4 at Banita Creek Hall, 401 W. Main St. Keynote speaker is Dr. F.E. “Ab” Abernethy.

The 2011 agriculture award recipients are:

   The George Grigsby Family will receive the Farm Family of the Year Award sponsored by Tipton Ford.

   Carrizo Wood Products will receive the Agribusiness of the Year Award sponsored by First Bank & Trust East Texas.

    Al Schmidt will receive the Agriculture Educator of the Year award sponsored by Citizens 1st Bank.

    Ray Mize will receive the Pete Smith Agricultural Pioneer Award sponsored by Heritage Land Bank.

Select sponsors are Austin Bank, Texas N.A. - Nacogdoches, Farmers State Bank, NEDCO and Texas Farm Products.

Table and individual tickets are available, and sponsorship opportunities are available to finance future agriculture scholarships. Contact the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, 936-560-5533, or go to

Jimmy and Ray Mize walk through the SFA Recreational Trails at University and Austin streets. (Photo by Bruce R. Partain)

The Nacogdoches Agriculture Committee consists of representatives from Nacogdoches County Farm Bureau, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, Nacogdoches Economic Development Corp., Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Cooperative Extension Program, Pineywoods RC&D, Stephen F. Austin State University - Agriculture Department and the Texas Forest Service are proud to co-sponsor the Agriculture Banquet honoring the Agriculture Industry in Nacogdoches County.

In addition to the banquet, the committee has organized farm tours of the County for media and business representatives on Friday, Apr. 1. Contact Chad Gulley or Crispin Skinner, 560-7711, for tour information and reservations.

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