William Jesse Forrester headshot

William Jesse Forrester


WILLIAM JESSE FORRESTER, a native of Dundee in Geneva County, Alabama, was known as a practical and scientific farmer as well as a modest gentleman intensely devoted to his community. 

After attending three years at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University, he returned home to establish Sanitary Dairy, which would become one of the south’s largest and most respected business enterprises. Forrester established the dairy at age 28. He was also co-owner of Forrester Farms. 

As a farmer and business owner, Forrester became one of the south’s leading cattle breeders, known particularly for his development of Alabama’s largest and one of the south’s finest purebred registered Jersey cattle herds and Grand Champion Jersey bulls. 

Forrester served for eight years on the Alabama Farm Bureau Dairy Commission and for more than 25 years as chair of the Agriculture Committee for the Dothan Chamber of Commerce. He was named president of the Dothan Chamber of Commerce in 1942. In that role, he led in the development of Napier Field in Dale County as a World War II Army Air Corps training installation. 

Forrester was a charter member of the Dothan Planning Commission, a leader in the organization of the Houston County Tuberculosis Association, a founding board member of the Southeast Alabama Medical Center, founding chairman of Dothan’s University of Alabama Center and chairman of the board of directors for Dothan’s Houston-Love Memorial Library. He was also a member of the board of directors for First National/SouthTrust Bank in Dothan and, in 1959, was named to the board of trustees of Alabama Polytechnic Institute. 

As a civic leader and Rotarian, Forrester was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow through the Dothan Rotary Club. In 1956, he was named Dothan Man of the Year by the Soroptimist Club. In 2012, he was posthumously inducted into the Dothan Business Hall of Fame. 

Throughout both his personal and professional lives, Forrester was known for his humility, his genuine love and concern for people and his tireless devotion to the betterment of his community. 

Forrester and his wife, Katharine, had two children: Phillip L. Forrester and Faith Forrester Baker. He passed away in 1975.