Wyeth Holt “Chuck” Speir, Jr.
Speir, known to most people as “Chuck,” was reared in Wilcox County on a cattle and timber farm. As a student at Moore Academy in Pine Apple, he was active in 4-H and FFA. Speir entered Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1952, but left for a tour in the U.S. Army in Germany from 1954 to 1956. He returned to Auburn receiving his degree in agricultural education in 1958.
For the next few years, Speir taught vocational agriculture in Carlowville, Ala., while working on an advanced degree. In 1961, upon completion of a master’s program, he became assistant county agent in Selma, a position he held until 1967 when he was hired by Helena Chemical Company as manager of its Selma operation. Speir’s talents and expertise were recognized and rewarded as Helena promoted him through various management positions. Speir’s territory covered Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nebraska, California, Nevada and Arizona, but he completed his career with Helena at the home office in Memphis where he was national marketing manager.
Speir resigned from Helena in 1977 and returned to Selma. While farming cotton, soybeans and wheat, he worked with his brother, Harold, to create their own ag chemical supply business, Dixie Ag Supply. ConAgra Foods bought Dixie Ag Supply in 1980 and renamed it United Agri Products. In 1992, the Speirs relocated to Daphne, where three of their four children had settled. Speir continued as president of UAP until his retirement in 1994. After retirement, he consulted for ConAgra on new ventures and acquisitions.
Much of Speir’s success is attributed to the practice of never letting politics enter his business dealings. His focus remained on trying to help farmers, no matter what the location or specific venture. He worked hard and was smart in his choices.
While at Auburn, Speir was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho and Alpha Zeta. He is a charter life member of the AU Ag Alumni Association. The Speirs are active members of the First Baptist Church in Daphne.
Chuck says he and Lena have been married 102 years – 51 years each. They have four children—Jennifer, Holt, John and Bill—and six grandchildren—Jenny, Christine, Will, Lena Cole, Coleman and Holtie.