Farm Bureau Career Agent Woody Townsend was honored Friday with a retirement reception at the Manila Farm Bureau office on Highway 18 Bypass.
Townsend will officially retire Dec. 31, with a total of 23-1/2 years with Farm Bureau.
Townsend began working with Farm Bureau as a part-time agent in 1959. He worked in that capacity until 1965. At that time Farm Bureau was eliminating part-time positions. Townsend was offered a full-time position but chose to stay with Planters Oil Company, a family-owned farm supply business. His parents, L.E. and Nellie Townsend, moved to Manila in 1940 and his father opened Planters Oil Company.
In November 1983 Townsend went back to work as a Farm Bureau agent and has been there since.
"Farm Bureau has been a good career for me. I've enjoyed all of the people. It has been rewarding to be able to help folks. I've always tried to treat people like I would like to be treated and put their interests first. Most people in this business do. It is a people business. I enjoy talking to folks and trying to help when I can," Townsend said.
Most people look forward to one retirement, but this is Townsend's second retirement. He retired from the military with 12 years of active service in the Air Force, was out 10 years and reenlisted for eight years in the Tennessee Air National Guard.
Townsend graduated from Manila High School. During his junior year, he realized he would be short of graduation only one credit and spoke to the principal about an early graduation. After completing high school in three years, Townsend attended one year at Texas A&M and one year at the University of Arkansas.
He always had an interest in airplanes and flying, and with the Korean War on, he decided to join the Air Force. He went in and earned navigator wings and served as a radar officer flying in the back seat of all-weather night fighters.
He later went back through pilot training and flew in one-man supersonic aircraft doing the same job - all-weather night flying.
The Korean War was over before Townsend completed his training, but when Vietnam began he was well trained in his field. Townsend flew 52 combat missions in Vietnam.
He retired at the rank of captain in 1965 and came home to Manila.
From the first time Townsend was in an airplane, he knew that he wanted to be a pilot. His uncle (Russel Fleeman) took him flying in the early 1940's and later his dad learned to fly and took him up with him.
Townsend serves as secretary/treasurer of the Manila Pilots Association. He served as the first president of the organization when it was formed in the 1990's.
Townsend and his wife, the former Nena Marie Crook, will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary on Dec. 23. They have three children. Their daughter, Tori L. Berry, lives in Jonesboro. She and her husband, Chriss, have two children. Their son, Tod, lives in Jonesboro and has three children. Son Trey lives in Orlando, Fla.
Townsend said that through the military they have lived and visited in a lot of interesting places. They have lived in Montana, Georgia, Alabama, Canada, Texas, California, the Philippines, Taiwan and have visited Hong Kong, Guam and Japan.
Everyone has a long list of projects they plan to do when they get the time. His list consists of house projects, yard projects, taking the grandchildren hunting and fishing, and traveling.
Townsend said he enjoyed the years he spent in the military and he has enjoyed the years he spent as a Farm Bureau agent. He is now looking forward to enjoying his retirement and spending time with his family.