BRAWLEY — The Brawley Chamber of Commerce awarded the Branding Iron Award in absentia to John Elmore, who was not able to attend the 2017 annual dinner and Branding Iron Award ceremony Thursday evening at Stockmen’s Club in Brawley. The award is given to recipients who demonstrate leadership, commitment, and support of business in Brawley.
His sons, Howard and Richard Elmore, received the award on his behalf. Elmore’s family members were present at the ceremony as dignitaries and guests filled the main hall and both the adjoining bar rooms.
Kirk Smith reminisced about his friend and Larry Fleming read excerpts from the letters of recommendation sent in on behalf of Elmore.
“This person is a visionary,” Smith said. “And visionaries march to a different drum. They’re one step ahead — the pack follows him. He is the most gracious and generous person. He taught me morals, character, value, life lessons. And I am really proud to call him my friend. He is so deserving of this award.”
Among his many accomplishments, Elmore transformed a cantaloupe packing shed into a state-of-the-art produce cooler and also developed a drainage tile business by hiring locals and using materials and equipment available in Brawley, Smith said.
According to Fleming, Elmore is 91, in good health and left the Imperial Valley for the summer. He and a group of friends recently visited Elmore in Newport Beach for lunch and arranged for a video interview of their visit.
“His major contribution has been as an innovator in the agricultural industry of Imperial Valley,” Fleming told the packed room. “‘He totally changed tiling of the land, making it both cheaper and better. He perfected the plastic tube in a continuous roll that everyone uses now.”
“He also revolutionized the melon packing process by moving the entire operation to the field, allowing farmers to pack melons who have no access to a packing shed,” Fleming added.
Furthermore, Elmore began using tail water for irrigation long before it became a common practice, making him a water conservationist before it was mandatory.
Elmore has long supported youth programs such as 4-H Clubs, the Future Farmers of America, the Boys and Girls Club, city Parks and Recreation, Elks Club, Lions Clubs, and provided college scholarships for Brawley Union High School seniors and youth sports.
In the video interview, Elmore was seen wearing a baseball cap with “BRAWLEY” written on it. The video concluded with, “Congratulations, John Elmore!” to which those present at the Branding Iron Award ceremony responded with applause.