WASHINGTON – Charles Wampler Jr. died at his home in Dayton, Virginia, on Jan. 15. He was 101. Wampler and his late brother, William, founded Wampler Foods Inc. and their father, Charles Sr., is considered by many to have started the modern poultry industry.
“I just think he’s somebody who had a huge impact on many lives in many different ways, from being a key leader within the poultry industry to being a member of the General Assembly to his service on many boards,” Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Federation (VPF), said of Wampler in a statement released by the National Chicken Council. “It seemed like he was somebody who touched a lot of lives on different levels, from his volunteer activities at the Sentara RMH Medical Center to leading big, important enterprises.”
Multi-media journalist, Jeff Ishee, who has covered Virginia agriculture for over 20 years, said Wampler’s mark on the industry was impressive. “Charlie Wampler Jr. was widely regarded for many reasons, but his role in the creation of the modern turkey industry was instrumental for Rockingham County being known around the world as the ‘Turkey Capital,’” Ishee said. “He was a friend of the farmer and was highly respected by his colleagues in agribusiness.”
Wampler’s many political and philanthropic contributions included service in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1954 to 1966, member of the Virginia Board of Agriculture for eight years, member of James Madison University’s and Virginia Tech’s boards of visitors, president and general manager of the Rockingham County Fair Association for 25 years, among others.
Wampler and his late wife, Dorothy, also aided with the founding of the United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. The United Way created the Charles W. Jr. and Dorothy Wampler Society in 2014 and bestows the Charlie Wampler Jr. Community Builder Award annually in recognition of lifetime donations of more than $20,000.
Wampler’s daughter, Barb Medley, said her father loved his community his entire life. “He was born and bred here,” she said, “and he valued so much the community. He had a wonderful spirit of volunteerism, and when somebody asked him to do something, he did it out of that strong sense of the community that he loved.”
Melby went on to say the donations her father cherished the most were those that helped save lives. “I think Dad was proudest of the 171 pints of blood that he donated to RMH (Rockingham Memorial Hospital) and Virginia Blood Services.”
Grandle Funeral Home in Broadway, Virginia, is in charge of arrangements.