Willard's passion for livestock and grain laid the foundation for his life within American agriculture. He was regarded as a leading agricultural economist, a cultivating businessman and a humble philanthropist.

Willard may have been most well-known internationally for his various commodity businesses and for being a leading agricultural economist, but he also played a big role in the cattle-feeding industry. He was part owner of Cattlco, LLC, one of the nation's largest cattle-feeding organizations with feedyards in Kansas, Colorado and Texas. The company ran a backgrounding operation in Mississippi and Tennessee.

Outside the cattle business, Willard worked for Cook Industries as the director of economic research, and later become the director of the Worldwide Agriproducts Group for Cook Industries. Subsequent to his time with Cook Industries, he founded Sparks Companies, Inc. to serve the needs of the world's leading agribusiness companies for research analysis and consulting.

His passion for agricultural industries was evident and his dedication to education and other community organizations were top priorities. He continually worked to better the people around him. Through his generosity, Oklahoma State University was able to open the Willard Sparks Beef Research Center. His kindness extended to the University of Memphis where he gave time, expertise and financial resources to the college. He was actively involved with numerous boards and committees at Oklahoma State University. Willard was recognized for his contributions to the advancements of agricultural business and his community; he was awarded as the 1987 Distinguished Alumnus from the Oklahoma State University Alumni Association. He was also named to the OSU Alumni Hall of Fame.

Willard left a legacy of generosity and ingenuity. He will be remembered for his profound contributions to the entire agriculture community — from crops to cattle.

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