WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Jack Eberspacher, president and CEO of the Agricultural Retailers Association, died July 5 at the Inova Cameron Glen Care Center in Reston, Va. Eberspacher was out on indefinite medical leave from ARA after a diagnosis of cancer in late April of this year.

"ARA and the industry lost a dynamic leader and true visionary," said ARA Chairman Ken Manning of Wilbur-Ellis Company. "Jack worked tirelessly to build this organization into the strong voice for agricultural retailers and distributors we have today in the nation's Capitol. He always stressed the importance of ARA listening to its members and providing value to those members. Due to his efforts, we have an experienced and very capable team at ARA who are committed to seeing Jack's and the Board of Director's vision for the organization fulfilled. ARA has a solid foundation in place that will only get stronger through the active involvement of its members and the industry."

Eberspacher was appointed president of ARA in July 2001 by the association's board of directors. He grew the association by more than 100 percent, increasing the annual association dues revenue from $567,000 to over $1.3 million. Prior to joining ARA, Eberspacher served as CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers. His leadership was the catalyst behind NAWG's financial turnaround, guiding the organization out from negative $200,000 in net earnings to a positive $80,000 in two-and-a-half years.

Before NAWG, Eberspacher served as the CEO of the National Grain Sorghum Producers Association, located in Lubbock, Texas. He grew that association by 300 percent and is credited with developing balanced association programs on policy, plant science and utilization; placing the association on the national legislative and regulatory scene.

In February 2002, Eberspacher was the only commodity leader invited to address the National Governors Conference, where he discussed the state of the agriculture economy and the importance of the 2002 farm bill. He was also appointed to the Bush/Cheney Agricultural Transition Team.

Eberspacher was born in Nebraska and received a bachelor's degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska. He also completed coursework toward a master's degree in business administration at Texas Tech University. He is survived by his wife, Jinger, and two children, Sam and Maggie.

A funeral will be held at the Vienna Presbyterian Church on 124 Park Street, NE, in Vienna, Va. ARA will provide additional details regarding these arrangements as soon as they are available.

The Agricultural Retailers Association is a nonprofit trade association representing the interests of retailers across the United States on legislative and regulatory issues on Capitol Hill. As the political voice of agricultural retailers, ARA not only represents its membership but also educates members on the political process and important issues affecting the industry.