Remembering Golden LEAF Board Members Jerome Vick and Tommy Bunn

Remembering Golden LEAF Board Members Jerome Vick and Tommy Bunn

July 27, 2023

North Carolina lost two leaders in agriculture this week, both with connections to Golden LEAF. Current Golden LEAF Board member and Finance Chair E. Jerome Vick passed away on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. Former Golden LEAF Board member J. Thomas “Tommy” Bunn passed away on Monday, July 24, 2023.

“Both men were tremendous agriculture allies and leaders,” said Golden LEAF Board Chair Don Flow. “On behalf of the Golden LEAF Board, we send our sincere condolences to the families of Jerome Vick and Tommy Bunn. We not only lost two fierce advocates for North Carolina’s economy, but also colleagues and friends. We recognize and honor their dedication to our state.”

Jerome Vick

Mr. Vick was appointed by Senator Berger to serve on the Golden LEAF Board of Directors in 2013. He served as the Chair of the Finance Committee since 2014.

Jerome and wife, Diane Vick, founded Vick Family Farms of Wilson in 1975. His love for farming and belief in a strong workforce has made him a leader in growing North Carolina’s economy, especially in the area of agriculture.

In June 2023, Mr. Vick was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine at the Golden LEAF Foundation office with family, friends, and colleagues in attendance.

Mr. Vick and Board member and Personnel/Nominations Committee Chair David Rose were farmers from neighboring counties, who served on the Golden LEAF Board together. Mr. Vick, Mrs. Vick, Mr. Rose, and Mr. Rose’s late wife, Cherie Rose, often traveled together to attend agriculture industry events.

“Over the last 25 years, Jerome and I spent a lot of time together,” said Mr. Rose.  “As neighboring farmers, Jerome, Diane, Cherie, and I traveled all over the country attending meetings together. I knew him well. He was a strong advocate of hard working North Carolinians. Golden LEAF’s focus on job creation, workforce preparedness, and agriculture fit right into his personal philosophy. I am proud to have worked alongside him as a farmer, as a Golden LEAF Board member, and as a supporter of the North Carolina economy. His leadership will leave a great hole to be filled. We need more Jerome Vicks in this world.”

Mr. Vick was one of the most successful farm managers in North Carolina, but he will be mostly remembered for his quick wit and timely one liners that brought humor and laughter to every situation.

“Life is made of crossroads,” said Mr. Vick in this past post on Vick Family Farm’s website. “You don’t have to have anything to start with except for desire – a real desire. It means you get up every morning and you work as hard as you can all day. Seeing how much my granddaddy and grandmamma loved farming, instilled in me a love for the land and the animals. We believe in being stewards of the land and industry.”

Tommy Bunn

Mr. Bunn was appointed by the Speaker of the House in 2000 and was one of the 15 original Golden LEAF Foundation Board members. He served on the Board from 2000-2013 and was Board Chair in 2008 and 2009.

Mr. Bunn formerly served as President of the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative following a 21-year career as Executive Vice-President of the Leaf Tobacco Exporters Association and Tobacco Association of the United States. In addition, he served as Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Agricultural Marketing Service Tobacco Division for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. and served under Commissioner Jim Graham with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He was currently serving as a consultant to the tobacco industry.

In addition, he was named by the North Carolina State Grange as Man of the Year in 1988 and was honored as a Distinguished Alumni with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University in 2012, where he graduated with a degree in Agriculture Business/Crop Science in 1966.

Mr. Bunn was married to North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall.

Mr. Bunn and Board member and farmer Lawrence Davenport served on the Golden LEAF Board together from 2000-2013.

“We lost a great leader in the agriculture industry this week,” said Mr. Davenport. “Tommy and I met when we were both attending N.C. State. Since then, we have crossed paths throughout our careers. When Tommy went to work with Ag Marketing Service Tobacco Division, I was on their Board of Directors. We served together on the Golden LEAF Board for 13 years. In between these years, we often attended meetings or events through our mutual dedication to the agriculture industry, especially as it related to tobacco. He was a genuinely great guy to work with, an inspiring leader, and an advocate of the Golden LEAF mission. Tommy left a huge imprint on the many people involved in the agriculture industry. He was not only a colleague, but he was also a friend. His legacy will live on but his presence will be truly missed.”

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