Donald “Buddy” Wray
Buddy Wray’s career at Tyson Foods, Inc. began in 1961 as a service technician, serving as a liaison between the company and contract family farmers to ensure their flocks were healthy and growing well. He progressed into management at Tyson’s second plant in Rogers and was soon made manager of the company’s first processing plant in Springdale.
Wray was part of a small team of Tyson principals who managed acquisition growth from 1963 through the turn of the century. He was instrumental in the company’s product development, sales and marketing that expanded Tyson’s offerings from fresh chicken into prepared foods such as chicken nuggets and patties through the 1970s and 80s.
He held a variety of management positions through the years and was named Chief Operating Officer in 1992, overseeing all operations including live poultry production, processing and sales. A year later Wray was promoted to President and retained these positions until he retired in 2000. He was a member of the board of directors from 1994-2003 and came out of retirement in 2009 to serve as Executive Vice President – Special Assistant to the President and CEO. Among his many honors, Wray was named the University of Arkansas’ “Distinguished Alumni of the Year” in 2000. In 2004, the University established the Donald “Buddy” Wray Chair in Food Safety in the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture. In 2012, Wray was named by the Northwest Arkansas Community College as a “Quality of Life” honoree, which recognizes individuals for their leadership in building and sustaining an excellent quality of life in northwest Arkansas.
Wray worked closely with Leland Tollett during their more than 50 years together, along with John and Don Tyson, to grow Tyson Foods into the global company it is today. Through his and Tollett’s joint leadership, the company has created thousands of jobs and become a worldwide leader in poultry production and processing.