The NGFA was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former NGFA President Donald K. Riffe, the long-time president of Stratford Grain Co. (founded in 1928) in Stratford, Texas, at the age of 89 on Dec. 28.
Riffe served as NGFA’s president from 1978-80, and helped lead the Association through a tumultuous period following the catastrophic series of grain elevator explosions at the New Orleans and Texas Gulfs during the winter of 1977-78. He helped spearhead the development of NGFA’s Fire and Explosion Research and Education Program that spent more than $3.5 million in industry-generated funds to determine the causes and ways of preventing such incidents, and led to fundamental redesigns and safety-protection devices and procedures now widely used by the industry, thereby saving lives and dramatically improving workplace safety. He also chaired NGFA’s Executive Committee from 1980-82, during the aftermath of the Soviet grain embargo, and served as a member of the NGFA’s Centennial Commission in 1996.
Don and his wife, Gaynelle (who were married in 1956), and other family members have been a constant presence at NGFA’s conventions and Country Elevator Conferences, where he regaled NGFA past presents and chairmen and everyone he met with his grace, kindness, joy and wit.
“Don will be deeply missed and long remembered,” said NGFA President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Gordon. “He was one of the classiest, kindest and most caring and thoughtful gentlemen in NGFA’s storied history. And whenever he was asked how he was doing, he responded with the phrase ‘I’m blessed.’ In reality, it was the countless industry colleagues, friends, and those in his community and region who were blessed and fortunate to know, work and interact with Don. We extend heartfelt condolences to Gaynelle, and the Riffe and Stratford Grain families. We are comforted in the knowledge that Don will be with us in spirit as we recognize and honor his life and service during NGFA’s 124th annual convention in March in Austin, Texas.”
The Riffe family has requested that memorials in Don’s honor be directed to the National Grain and Feed Foundation. His obituary may be viewed here.