Just outside the lobby of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation headquarters hangs a plague marking the opening of the building more than 35 years ago. If you look closely, one name in particular may jump out.
Malcolm Paul Howse served as not only an instrumental member of the committee to build the headquarters, but as a key member of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation for decades. For his service, Malcolm was posthumously selected as the 2018 Excellence in Leadership award winner.
“He was involved with it up until just a year or so ago,” said Michael Howse, Malcolm’s oldest son. “He was actually on the county board and, Rick can tell you as well as I can, he would be doing whatever and they would have a meeting…”
“And he’d shut down,” said Rick Howse, Malcolm’s youngest son.
“He would shut it down, go in clean up and change clothes and he was coming to, he was going to be at the meetings regardless,” Michael continued.
“He was here,” Rick added.
Malcolm was a farmer, through and through, serving the Wayne County Farm Bureau, as well as the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. Born on property outside of Waynesboro, near the Winchester community, farming was all Malcolm ever wanted to do.
“I think he loved growing stuff,” Michael said. “I mean, growing up, we had sheep. We had cows. We had hogs. We had goats. He even fooled with bees for a while and a lot of it was because there was a market for it”
Michael and Rick believe Malcolm learned the value of hard work through the act of farming during the Great Depression.
“You worked in the garden,” Michael said. “You put the products up. You either canned them or you put them in storage, and that’s what you lived on through the winter. It was not only for the people, but for the animals and the stock and everything else. So, he grew up with the ethic of you don’t throw anything away.”
Malcolm left high school early to enlist in the Army. He served in Europe during World War II then returned to the states where he trained soldiers for the Korean War. He also returned to a girl he had known most of his life, and married her on Christmas Eve, 1948.
“My mother could actually – you could pick a stick up out here in a parking lot and give it to her and she could make it grow and bloom,” Michael said.
“She could,” Rick said.
“She was a gardener,” Michael said. “She was just gifted that way and she worked alongside him in making all of this possible.”
Malcolm was proud to serve Farm Bureau, according to his sons. He served as the author of several instrumental Farm Bureau policies, like the country of origin policy for beef, fish and poultry.
“He felt that was one of the things that he could do,” Michael said. “See that it got pushed through (so) that people would know where what they ate came from because it would actually help the local farmers to know that, hey, this was made in the United States.”
For those who knew him, Farm Bureau members who served with him, and his family who loved him, Malcolm was much more than a farmer.
“The last year of his life when we finished that last garden, he told my little grandson, who’s six, he said, when you put these seeds in the ground something magical occurs, and I think his legacy would be plant a seed and watch it grow,” Rick said.