WINSTON-SALEM, NC. – Blake Lovette, the longtime poultry industry executive and former chief executive officer of Holly Farms, died at the age of 77 on Sept. 29, due to a brief illness, according to his obituary.

Lovette began his poultry career at Wilkesboro, NC-based Holly Farms working quality control for the company that his late brother Fred Lovette founded.

In 1976, he was named executive vice president of Holly Farms. Two years later, he took a job as executive vice president at Russellville, Ark.-based Valmac Industries Inc. and eventually worked as CEO.

After Valmac, Lovette moved onto to Perdue Farms in 1985 and took over as president of the Perdue’s Shenandoah Products Corp.

Then in 1988, he returned to his roots at Holly Farms to become president and chief operating officer. During 1989, he oversaw Holly’s acquisition by Tyson Foods.

Following the merger with Tyson, Lovette left Holly Farms and purchased Lovette Egg. Co., which he renamed Lovette Co. The company was started by his father, Charles Odell “C.O.” Lovette who was a poultry farmer and businessman in North Carolina. 

Eventually, Blake sold the Lovette Co. to Conagra Poultry in 1998. Lovette served as president of Conagra Poultry until his retirement in 2003.

During his time in poultry industry, Lovette served on the boards of Pilgrim’s Pride and Morris & Associates Inc.

He also was on the boards of many industry-related organizations, including the National Chicken Council, US Poultry and Egg Association, American Poultry Export Council, NC Poultry Federation and Arkansas Poultry Federation.

“Not only was Blake committed to the businesses he ran, he was committed to the poultry industry, having served multiple terms as NCC chairman, from 1984-1986," said Mike Brown, president of National Chicken Council. "In fact, he was the last chairman to serve more than one term. Blake was a true leader, in the poultry business and the community, a forward thinker and a pioneer of the modern chicken industry. He will be greatly missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, colleagues and all who were privileged to know him and to work with him."

Lovette was inducted into the North Carolina Poultry Federation Hall of Fame in 2010.

Funeral arrangements are not completed. Lovette’s full obituary can be found here.