New CALS scholarship honors Richard Canady and his love for family, friends and agriculture

It’s not typical that an endowment signing draws a standing-room-only crowd, but when word went out that a scholarship was being created in memory of Richard Canady, 2002 graduate of N.C. State University, nearly three score family, friends and colleagues made a point to be there Oct. 1. The David “Richard” Canady Scholarship Endowment was created that day by Richard’s parents, David and Jean, and brother, Andrew, in the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc., College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The endowment will be used to provide scholarships for CALS students who are at least rising sophomores and enrolled in a traditional agriculture program either in four-year degree curricula or in the two-year Agricultural Institute. Priority for the receiving award will be for students with a background or interest in agriculture or agribusiness, with additional priority given to applicants from the CALS Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE), from which Canady graduated.

Canady’s 2002 bachelor’s degree from ARE was one of two he earned that year, double-majoring in forest management. Canady, who grew up in St. Pauls, had applied only to N.C. State when he graduated from high school, saying “My kind of people go to State,” his father and grandfather both having been N.C. State graduates. He later earned a 2003 master’s degree in agribusiness management from Mississippi State University. From there, he returned to work briefly with the state Department of Natural Resources, before taking a post as agronomist with Universal Leaf North America in Nashville, a job his father described as a “hand-in-glove” fit for him.

Richard Canady

Meanwhile, in 2005, Canady also had begun his own farming operation, raising soybeans. By 2006, his father recalled, he had 130 acres of beans in the dirt. “He was getting serious about his business,” David Canady said. But in June 2006, Richard was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Despite surgery to remove it, the cancer returned, and Canady’s health declined. He was attended to by many loving family and friends, and several local farmers joined together to complete the harvesting of his bean crop. He passed away May 26, 2007 at the age of 28.

Now, on this first day of October – Richard’s mother’s birthday – the room was full of memories of him. His three degrees were on display. And his aunts and uncles, former classmates, work colleagues, friends, N.C. State professors and, of course, his parents were generous with their recollections of him, painting a vivid picture of Richard Canady.

It is also a story of a family’s love of N.C. State University.

“In a lot of ways this is a celebration,” said David Canady. “It has sadness but also great joy. Thanks to all who’ve come – you’ve been special in our lives and Richard’s life.

“This story really begins over 85 years ago in 1925 when my father, Ernest, graduated from State College. … Somewhere on this campus there is a steel ball and only my father and one other student could lift that ball. In the late ’40s and ’50s when NC State was ruling the roost in basketball, I remember listening to the radio to the Dixie Classic. What a wonderful time growing up. State was my team. My daddy had three brothers who went to Wake Forest and became preachers, and so did I. … As time passed I worked with the Department of Corrections as an alcoholics counselor, and I had the opportunity to come to State and get a master’s degree (in counseling). It was pure joy. So I did get my degree from here, too!

David and Jean Canady shared special memories of their son.

“My first son, Richard, was born in 1978 and Andrew in 1981. They are and were wonderful sons. They never worried us. It always got better. We were blessed.

“Richard made his decision to go to N.C. State, and that’s the only place he applied. He majored in forest management and ag business management, but he was really majoring in building friendships and enjoying people. He really loved people. He loved his professors.”

Among those professors in attendance were Bob Usry, retired ARE faculty member, who advised Canady on the ARE marketing team; Dr. William Collins, former crop science Extension specialist and university coordinator of tobacco programs, now co-director of the N.C. SUCCEED! leadership program for young farmers, who helped Canady secure his job with Universal Leaf; and Dr. Jon Brandt, head of the ARE Department.

Brandt was moved to see the numbers in attendance, saying, “This is a testament to Richard. We think of our students as family: We get to know them and miss them. Our faculty are pleased for this endowment in his name. We have so many students who come to N.C. State in need of financial help.”

Usry remembered that “Richard had a way of being where he needed to be. For professors and teachers, Richard is the model of the ideal learner – highly motivated and a pleasure to have in classes. [He was] a young person who found the perfect job in the perfect place and industry for him and for his abilities.”

Collins elaborated even further. “This is a tribute to a great, great person, a lovable person, the kind of person you gravitate to,” he said. “This is the largest scholarship signing that I ever attended, as we are here today to perpetuate the legacy of a young man. I became involved with him when he was a student. He was a model type of student. Later he asked me to help him get a job in the tobacco industry… . I enjoyed traveling with him because his conversation was so great and he had such a vision.”

In fact, said Collins, Canady’s resume was uniquely memorable because it included a mission statement, from which Collins read: “I believe the most important things in my life are family, good friends and spending time with them and the blessings that have been given to me… . It is my hope that my people will find me trustworthy and able to relate… also that I will be a person who can make mistakes and be able to learn from them, as well as laugh at them.”

Said David Canady, “What a wonderful person our son Richard was. How he loved people. How thankful we are for family and friends who made his and our lives richer, and for all of you who helped care for him in those months he was home.

“With this scholarship in his name, we hope students will catch some of the spirit of loving life and loving agriculture that Richard Canady possessed.” – Terri Leith

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