By Sarah Jones
“There are few greater honors than being Marvin Ruark’s granddaughter. And if you know him, you probably feel the same is true of being his friend.
But this fall, the honor is his. Marvin Ruark is this year’s Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival’s Cotton King. This is the 30th Annual Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival.
Being the son of a farmer and having a mother with a green-thumb, it is no surprise that my grandaddy grew up to be a farmer. His family has tended to the soil of Bostwick, Georgia for over 100 years; he is a fifth-generation farmer. For over 50 years, he and his brother, Gene, (1932-2017) farmed alongside each other. Today, Ruark Bros. is joined by two more generations of Ruarks, Gene’s son Mark, my uncle John, and John’s son, my cousin Andrew Ruark.
My grandaddy was born in Bostwick and it was there that he and my meme, Bebe, raised four children: John Ruark (Tamie), Deanne Ruark, Agnes Jones (Bobby) and Andrea Burruss (Rhett). I’m the middle of seven grandchildren: Andrew Ruark (Shannon), Emily O’Neal (Justin), Ansley Cochran (Bo), and Mally, Brady and Lucy Burruss. They have four great-grandchildren (Isabelle, Evan, Charlotte, and Milo).
“Live a quiet life and work with your hands.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11
My grandaddy has a servant heart.
He has served the cotton industry well. He is an advocate for agriculture, traditions yet also the younger generation. He still holds his position as Soil Conservation Supervisor and Georgia Farm Bureau 4th District Director. In 2015, he was honored for 35 years of service to the Georgia Cotton Commission. I remember a colleague of Grandaddy’s saying that day, “Marvin doesn’t speak up a whole lot, but when he does speak, everyone should listen.”
He was a part of the Georgia Boll Weevil Foundation since the foundation started. Marvin Ruark was President of the Morgan County Farm Bureau, a member of the Cotton Board, on the Board of Directors of Southern Cotton Growers, served on the National Cotton Council and was a part of Cotton Incorporated.
He is an active member of Gibbs Memorial Baptist Church in Bostwick where he is recognized as a Deacon Emeritus.
He gives his whole heart to everything. He has always been all of our biggest fans. He is an encourager and a listener. There’s nothing Grandaddy loves more than God, his family, especially my Meme, his friends, and animals. But a close fifth might be movies or the ocean.
Thank a cotton farmer for the shirt on your back.
If you know my grandaddy, you know he would give you the shirt off his.”