Tag Archives: National Watermelon Associaton

#nwamembermondays – Gerald Mann

Gerald Mann

At the 1979 National Conference, the proceedings were dedicated to the Gerald Mann family for their ‘untiring efforts’ which had resulted in the continued growth of the National Watermelon Association. Over 30 years later, many of our younger members may not recognize Gerald Mann. It is my pleasure to reintroduce you to Gerald Mann and his contributions to our watermelon family.

Gerald Mann is currently a member of the Lifetime Council and has been a member of the Association for over 40 years. He operated Gerald Mann LLC in Pearsall, Texas and participated in the leadership of the Texas Watermelon Association. He is still a member of the Executive Council in Texas. From 1978 to 1979, Gerald was the President of the National Association. Following his presidency, he held various other leadership roles including Chairman of the Executive Committee in 1979.

For many of our members who have been in leadership roles, simply stating the positions Gerald held is enough information to communicate the services that he rendered. But for those of us who have not served in those capacities, it’s important to get a glimpse of the breadth of their service. In addition to the daily responsibilities of owning and operating your own business and home, the President of  the National Watermelon Association must also turn their attention to oversight of the National office and its staff. They serve sacrificially, giving both their time and resources for their colleagues and competitors equally. It is their desire to see the watermelon industry flourish, which means they must keep abreast of the federal issues that affect all our members. Gerald Mann was involved – as are all our officers – in the promotion of watermelon sales and the research that positively impacts yield.

The commitment our leaders make is more than one-year in office. Once their nomination is confirmed, they step into the office of 2nd Vice President and then go on to 1st Vice President before their year as President. Following their presidency, they  take on the role of National Chairman. This four-year experience binds the hearts of our officers to the Association and its members for a lifetime.

Gerald Mann followed this path and we appreciate his service. Today we again recognize the Gerald Mann family for their untiring efforts and dedication to the National Watermelon Association. Thank you Gerald.





#nwamembermondays – Mary Beth Welby

MaryBeth Welby

In 1967, Mary Beth Welby began her journey in the watermelon industry. She and her husband were the only watermelon growers that took their produce from town to town in the state of Missouri. She recalls making daily trips delivering watermelons to Scott City, Hazelwood, Mexico, Warehouse, and Produce Row, Missouri.

My introduction to Mary Beth Welby came from Richard Novak. Here are some of his memories of Mary Beth.

“Mary Beth spent her entire life involved in the watermelon industry. She and her husband hauled watermelons from southern Missouri to St. Louis. I’m not sure if they traveled south during the early part of the season and bought watermelons. She was in charge of the Missouri/Arkansas Watermelon Association for many years. She knew everybody at the Terminal Market in St. Louis back when I first met her. I was just getting into the business of selling bins in the early nineties when she called me. She took me (I drove) down to the boot heel of Missouri and introduced me to some of the growers and shippers.

She used to talk about delivering watermelons to Bob Hope’s hotel room when he performed in St. Louis (I have seen autographed pictures of Bob thanking her for the watermelons). 

Greg Leger and I were talking last week and we both seem to remember that Mary Beth was the person the first introduced us to one another.”

Mary Beth Welby celebrated her 91st birthday this year. The majority of those years were spent in the watermelon industry and the National Watermelon Association. We honor Mary Beth today for her many contributions, both to the National Association and as a leader in the industry in Missouri and Arkansas. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mary Beth, her reputation as a strong business woman at a time when agriculture was made up predominantly of men leads me to admire her tenacity. Thank you, Mary Beth, for your fortitude and service to our Association and to our industry. We wish you a very happy 91st year!


MB WElby Bob Hope 3