Walter “Sonny” Corcoran Sr. led by quiet example, making a lasting impact on agriculture and his community. Corcoran was born June 7, 1932, in Eufaula. His family began farming in the area when he was a teenager, on about 800 acres. A graduate of Eufaula High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in 1954. He married his wife, Ann, a year later.
Over the years, Corcoran expanded his farming operation, and his legacy continues at Corcoran Farms, a diversified row-crop and livestock enterprise, as well as Backyard Orchards, a fruit and vegetable operation that offers educational programs for students from kindergarten through college.
Corcoran was a pioneer of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program in Alabama, promoting it among his fellow producers and even signing the bank note to ensure the program continued in his region. He showed incredible foresight, convincing fellow farmers that their initial investment eventually would pay off. The program is credited with revitalizing the cotton industry in southeast Alabama.
Corcoran served as a director of both Southern Cotton Growers and Cotton Incorporated, was with the Southeastern Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation and the Alabama Cotton Commission and was a delegate to the National Cotton Council. He was on the Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton Committee, a director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association and a member of the association’s executive committee. He was also on the Peanut Administration Standards Board for USDA and a member of the National Peanut Growers Group. In addition, he was affiliated with the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and the Barbour County Agri Business and Development Association, was district supervisor for the Barbour County Soil and Water Conservation District and served as a Barbour County Commission member.
The man whose epitaph reads “A Christian Gentleman” personified those qualities daily through his unbending faith and steady leadership. He was a deacon and treasurer in his church and a tireless worker for local education and government.
Corcoran died in February 2005. He and Ann were married just one month short of 50 years. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Walt and Tom Corcoran, both of Eufaula; two daughters, Susan Haney of Macon, Georgia, and Cindy Clark of Eufaula; 11 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.