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Carl Anderson – Cotton’s Gentle Giant

Tommy Horton

By Tommy Horton

By this time, you’ve already seen numerous stories about the passing of Dr. Carl Anderson, renowned Texas A&M economist who had a global reputation for analyzing and understanding the cotton market. And there isn’t much we can add to that long list of tributes. This man, who passed away at the age of 83, was a walking encyclopedia and could talk for hours about market trends in cotton. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his generosity and patience whenever we called on him to help us at Cotton Farming magazine.

Even during my days at the National Cotton Council (1985-1998), I can remember doing radio interviews with Anderson, and one constant theme always came through. He couldn’t say “no” to any request. No matter where I ran into him at Beltwide Cotton Conferences, industry meetings or special marketing seminars, he was never too busy to talk.

That’s what I will always remember about Carl Anderson. He loved the cotton industry, and he wanted to share as much information as possible with farmers on how to market their crops in the most efficient way. He didn’t mind speaking his mind, but he was never too pushy with audiences about the need to implement smart marketing plans.

No matter if it was a large or small crowd, he would implore his listeners not to be shy about asking questions. He welcomed this kind of interaction. Granted, there were farmers sitting in the audience who were probably intimidated by Anderson. But, once the ice was broken, the questions would come non-stop. Anderson loved that. His mission was to change a farmer’s mindset about how and when to sell his crop.

This tall Texan also had the patience of a first-grade teacher. Even if the interviewer or audience didn’t have a thorough understanding of “puts” and “calls,” he could find a way to make the conversation lively and meaningful. He knew how to make complicated topics seem very easy to understand.

When a person had as much knowledge and experience as Carl Anderson, he could articulate his message in a spontaneous way. Or, he could be thoughtful and analytical as if he were defending a doctoral dissertation. He was a man for all seasons, depending on who was listening to one of his presentations.

Mostly, though, I will always remember a kind, compassionate person who would stop me in the lobby of a hotel and spend several minutes giving a quick assessment of the Texas cotton crop. And he’d always offer a quick price prediction and add his customary laugh. When he laughed after one of those instant commentaries, I sometimes didn’t know if he was joking or serious. In December of 2012, we invited him to participate in an in-depth Q&A interview with Don Shurley, Georgia Extension economist, for the cover story. As I look back on that interview, I am so glad we had that opportunity to feature these two experts in our magazine. They shared a lot of information and accurately predicted key trends.

As I was scrolling through some old emails, I ran across the very nice thank-you note from Carl after that story was published. In typical fashion, he was extremely appreciative for the opportunity to be featured in the magazine – and he was even more thankful for being given the chance to share information with our readers. Then, he quickly wished me a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Kindness was his calling card. And that’s what we’ll really miss about Carl Anderson.