Mourners share memories of poultry baron, philanthropist Bo Pilgrim

Updated: Jul. 26, 2017 at 7:27 PM CDT
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(Source: KLTV)
(Source: KLTV)

PITTSBURG, TX (KLTV) - An iconic East Texas business figure and philanthropist was laid to rest Wednesday.

Lonnie 'Bo' Pilgrim, one of the founders of 'Pilgrim's Pride,' died in Pittsburg on Friday at the age of 89. A native East Texan, he was a 'depression era' child who once worked for 50 cents an hour, and went on to become a giant in the poultry industry.  

First Baptist Church of Pittsburg was packed with civic and business leaders and elected officials, along with many who came just to say goodbye to Pilgrim.

"He was just a regular old person who had a dream, and saw that dream come true," said Pittsburg Mayor Shawn Kennington.

"Legendary, iconic, what can you say about a person like that? The American success story, and yet with all that, a humble Godly man," says Texas Congressman Bryan Hughes.

He was remembered as a humble man and a great benefactor.
"He worked hard; he never forgot where he came from. He donated to colleges and schools and churches. He gave back, he really gave back. A huge loss for our area," said District 5 State Representative Cole Hefner.

One memory was of how Bo would literally give you the shirt off his back.
"He strips off his shirt, and strips off his tie, and says 'I'm going to give this to Hendrix,' " said former employee and friend Bob Hendrix.

Many remembered Bo's subtle sense of humor.
"Bo said he expected you to work 12 hours a day. He didn't care whose 12 hours it was," Hendrix says.

His business put thousands of people to work over the years, and that fueled local businesses. But everything came back to Bo's faith.
"In many ways, Mr. Pilgrim was bigger than life. But at its heart and root, he was a humble man before God," said friend Vernon Rowe.
First Baptist Church was filled to capacity for the service, and the overflow watched his memorial on closed circuit television in an auxiliary building. Bo

Pilgrim is survived by his wife of 61 years, Patty.

The family requests donations be made to:

American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue...
Dallas, TX 75231

Patty and Bo Pilgrim Cancer Center
2101 Mulberry Avenue
Mt. Pleasant, TX. 75455 

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