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Jeanne F. Lively

DAVIS, ROY BENNETT (1900–1975). Roy Bennett Davis, cotton expert, was born on December 10, 1900, in McGregor, Texas, the second of ten children of Clifford L. and Jessie (Burson) Davis. In 1906 his father moved the family from the McLennan County farm to a farm near Lamesa, where they lived first in a dugout. There Davis began picking cotton at the age of six and attended a rural school when he could be spared from farm chores. He attended Lubbock High School and in 1923 became one of the school's first graduates of the vocational agricultural program. He enrolled at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) and received a B.S. degree in animal husbandry in 1927. His first job was with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service as a county agent for Gaines, Hale, and Terry counties, a position he held from 1927 to 1932. He married Dennise Cobb on December 21, 1929. The couple had two children.

Davis next worked as manager of a butter and cheese plant, the Plains Co-Op, in Plainview. During his tenure there, he changed the cream-processing plant to a whole-milk operation and ultimately made it one of the largest of its kind in the Southwest. In 1935, as a result of his success during difficult economic times in his managership of the Plainview plant, Governor James Allred asked Davis to serve as a regent of Texas A&M.

From 1938 to 1943 Davis was secretary and vice president of the Houston Bank for Cooperatives. From 1943 to 1971 he was general manager of the Plains Cooperative Oil Mill in Plainview. Initially, under his leadership, four hydraulic presses of 1900 vintage were replaced, and in the early 1940s four more hydraulic presses were added. Later he added two screw presses. After World War II the work was done by eight screw presses. In 1952 the mill was converted from the hydraulic and screw-press extraction method to that of a solvent operation, and its daily capacity increased to 800 tons. The mill capacity increased to 1,200 tons daily by the early 1960s. As a result of his work the Plains Cooperative Oil Mill became the largest in the world. Because he continuously sought international trade markets for United States cotton, Davis was the prime promoter in making Lubbock and the Texas South Plains the inland cotton capital of the world.

From 1951 to 1959 Davis served as director of the Texas Credit Administration; he was vice chairman for one term. In 1969 Governor Preston Smith appointed him chairman of the Texas Rural Development Commission. Later he was appointed a member of the Advisory Council for Technical Vocational Education in Texas, a position that pleased Davis because of his own high school training in vocational education. He shared his expertise in cotton importing and exporting for four years as a member of the Research Export Expansion Council under appointment by Secretary of Commerce A. B. Trowbridge. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he served on numerous industrial committees and the Department of Agriculture's cotton and cottonseed research and marketing advisory committee. He was one of the founders of Plains Cotton Growers in Lubbock. For eight years beginning in 1956 Davis was a delegate to the policy-making agency of the National Cotton Council of America. He served in various offices of the group, giving unusual advisory assistance as chairman of the special export committee.

He hosted an annual banquet for the Lubbock Eastern Little League baseball teams (including one team sponsored by his mill). He was a member of the boards of directors of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce and the United Fund. For many years he served as a member of the Texas Tech University Foundation Board. After retirement he served as an advisory director of the Textile Research Center at Texas Tech. In 1968 he was voted Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at Texas A&M, where in 1971 the Roy B. Davis Distinguished Professorship in Agricultural Cooperation was established. Davis was a Baptist and a Mason. He was a thirty-second degree Shriner. He died on August 25, 1975, in Lubbock and was buried at Resthaven Cemetery. See also COTTON CULTURE, COTTONSEED INDUSTRY.


William N. Stokes, Jr., Oil Mill on the Texas Plains (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1979).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Jeanne F. Lively, "DAVIS, ROY BENNETT," accessed July 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fda87.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on October 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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