Benjamin Barnett “B.B.” Spratling, Jr.
B.B., Barnett, Bunny, Sprat – no matter the first name, Benjamin Barnett Spratling Jr.’s last name has long been synonymous with leadership in agriculture.
Spratling graduated from Union Springs High School and was attending Auburn University by the beginning of World War II. In 1943, he joined the United States Army Air Forces (now the U.S. Air Force), completed training as an aviation cadet at the University of Tennessee, and began serving as a flight instructor at Cochran Field in Macon, Georgia, and at Tuskegee, Alabama.
After the war, Spratling chose to go back to the family farm in Roba, Alabama, rather than finish his degree at Auburn. His father worked as a rural mail carrier but had begun part-time farming to provide extra income for the family. Once Spratling came back home, the two began farming in partnership.
In 1950, Spratling purchased a 460-acre tract of land in Macon County. Ironically, the acreage, once a part of the family farm, had been sold by Spratling’s grandfather in 1921. Over the next twenty years, he increased his assets to include two beef cattle herds and over 1,800 acres of bahai grass, Johnsongrass, cutting hay, sericea lespedeza, lupines, and caley peas.
However, when more than 200 of his cows contracted brucellosis, Spratling sold all his cattle. Consequently, Spratling planted soybeans in 1967 rather than planting forage crops.
Spratling increased his soybean acreage from the initial 50 acres to more than 1,100 acres. By then, he had also served as secretary-treasurer, vice president and president of the Alabama Soybean Association. He also held the titles of vice chairman and chairman of the Alabama Soybean Producers, was a member of the national board of the American Soybean Association, and had served as president and chairman of the board of that organization.
For all his years of hard work and dedication to the soybean industry, Spratling was awarded the Meritorious Service Award from the American Soybean Association, the Agricultural Leadership Award from the Dupont Chemical Company and in 1985, received the American Soybean Association’s highest honor, the Honorary Life Membership Award.
When Spratling’s father died in 1979, Spratling was elected to his father’s seat on the board of trustees of Dixie Electric Cooperative. Spratling served as secretary-treasurer of Dixie Electric, director of the Alabama Rural Electric Association, and on the board of trustees at Alabama Electric Cooperative. In 2004, Spratling received the Ray Jeffcoat Outstanding Service Award from Alabama Electric Cooperative.
Spratling passed away on January 9, 2006. He is survived by his second wife, Dorothy; his three children; Ruth Elizabeth, Sarah Marie and Benjamin Barnett Spratling III; and five grandchildren.