G.L. "Sam" Seitz

Former Calcot president and chairman emeritus of Amcot

G.L. "Sam" Seitz, former Calcot president and chairman emeritus of Amcot, died Thursday. He was 92.

Seitz joined the Calcot staff in 1947 and served as assistant general manager, sales manager and executive vice president before being tapped to head the cotton marketing cooperative in 1971. He retired as Calcot CEO in 1977, and served for a decade as the chairman of Amcot, and CEO of Amcot International, coordinating the cotton marketing activities worldwide of the four major U.S. cotton cooperatives.

"I attribute much of Calcot's modern-day success to Sam," said current Calcot President Tom W. Smith, who was hired in 1957 and received Seitz's personal recommendation to succeed him as president in 1977. "He was a key force in helping to make this organization what it is today, and he did so much more for the entire cotton industry for which he has never really gotten credit."

Born in Temple, Texas, on March 12, 1909, and raised on a farm near Winters, Texas, he earned a bachelor of science degree in agricultural education from Texas A&M University and was a World War II veteran, serving 21/2 years in the U.S. Navy.

Before coming to Calcot, he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and served in the Farm Security Administration, the Soil Conservation Service and the cotton branch of Agricultural Marketing Service.

Seitz was brought to Calcot by then-President J. Russell Kennedy, who had worked with him at USDA.

Under the two men, "Calcot rose from what was basically a small-scale cotton merchandiser to a major marketing cooperative, handling well over a million bales per year," Smith said.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Calcot built warehouses in Bakersfield, Fresno and the Imperial Valley. Arizona growers joined the ranks in 1955, and warehouse space was added in Glendale, Ariz., later that year.

Cotton acreage increased, cotton gins were built throughout the two-state area, and Seitz presided over several innovations that would make cotton a major crop for both states.

For example, Seitz was a major factor in pushing gins to adopt cotton bale compression, which makes bales more compact for shipping in rail cars and shipping containers.

A trade mission headed by Seitz in 1972 opened doors in then-Communist Eastern Europe, which resulted in increased trade with those countries. And in 1973, a thawing of the Cold War saw Seitz and Calcot become the first American cotton company to enter the Peoples' Republic of China and negotiate a direct sale with the Chinese, the first of many sales for Far Western cotton growers into what has become a key customer in the world cotton market.

Seitz was twice chairman of the Cotton Board and served on the board for 12 years; was a cooperative delegate to the National Cotton Council, serving on its board and executive committee; and was a member of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations for USDA.

But, Smith said, Seitz's "greatest legacy" is the educational foundation that bears his name.

Upon his retirement, Seitz established the nonprofit Calcot-Seitz Foundation, with a personal contribution of $10,000. The mission of the Calcot-Seitz Foundation is to provide sufficient funding each year to grant a dozen or more $3,000 scholarships to students attending a four-year school with a major in agriculture or an agriculture-related field.

Today the Calcot-Seitz Foundation has more than $600,000 in the corpus of the fund, and this year awarded a record 17 scholarships totaling $51,000.

He was also active in local community organizations, including Kiwanis, was chairman of the Kern County chapter of the American Red Cross for four years, as well as chairman of the county's U.S. Savings Bond committee, was a committee member of Kern County Board of Trade, a member of Stockdale Country Club, First Methodist Church, and several Masonic organizations.

Seitz was preceded in death by his wife, Fannie Lee, in 1998. He is survived by daughter and son-in-law Dinah and Tharrell Ming of Bakersfield, and daughter and son-in-law Bee Gee and Bob Millinich of Alamo, Calif., as well as seven grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are set for 11:30 a.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church, 4600 Stockdale Highway.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Calcot-Seitz Foundation, P.O. Box 259, Bakersfield, CA 93302-0259.

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