Obituary: Bo Pilgrim

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Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, Baptist philanthropist and chicken mogul, died July 21 in Pittsburg. He was 89. Pilgrim was born May 8, 1928, to Alonzo Monroe Pilgrim and Gertrude Gunn Pilgrim. He was a U.S. Army veteran and a longtime member of First Baptist Church in Pittsburg. He was co-founder and longtime chairman and chief executive officer of Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation. He also was chairman emeritus of Pilgrim Bank. Pilgrim contributed significantly to Baptist causes, particularly at Dallas Baptist University, where he served on the board of trustees in the 1980s. He frequently visited the DBU campus to speak with students, bringing with him “Henrietta,” the stuffed chicken that joined him on many television commercials where he wore his trademark black pilgrim-style hat. He typically presented each student a gospel tract, along with a $20 bill either to help the student or provide a chance for the student to pass along the blessing to someone else. When DBU began the campaign to build its first chapel, he and his wife, Patty, contributed the $8 million lead gift, the largest donation ever received by the university. In fall 2009, DBU opened the Patty and Bo Pilgrim Chapel. DBU presented the Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award to Pilgrim in 1995 and awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2002. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Patty; sons and daughters-in-law Ken and Donna Pilgrim of Pittsburg and Pat & Anne Pilgrim of Lake Creek; daughter and son-in-law Greta and Bill Henson of Dallas; six grandchildren; three great grandchildren; and a sister, Sue Hester Kellam of Pittsburg. He is preceded in death by his brothers, Calvin, Aubrey, Harold, and Billy Carroll Pilgrim; and sisters, Betty Carolyn Pilgrim, Mary Kathryn Julian and Margaret Nugent.

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