Texas Tech University

Willingham to Receive National Golden Spur Award on Oct. 15

Lucy Greenberg

July 29, 2022

The ranching and livestock industries, along with the Ranching Heritage Association, a part of the National Ranching Heritage Center, presents this top award to a Texas native.

Clark S. Willingham has been named the 2022 National Golden Spur Award recipient in recognition of his dedication to the ranching and livestock industries. The award is co-sponsored by the Ranching Heritage Association, the non-profit fundraising entity of the National Ranching Heritage Center at Texas Tech University

“This award recognizes iconic industry leaders whose devotion to land and livestock has earned them notable respect and admiration from their peers,” said Jim Bret Campbell, executive director of the National Ranching Heritage Center. “It is the most prestigious honor given to one person by the ranching and livestock industries.”

Willingham will be honored at the National Golden Spur Award dinner at 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the Overton Hotel in Lubbock. 

A native Texan born in Houston and raised in Dallas, Willingham earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Texas Tech University and a master's degree in tax law and a juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University where he met his wife, Jane Hitch.

While Willingham did not grow up in agriculture, his decades of volunteer service demonstrate his dedication to the cattle industry. Under the guidance of his late father-in-law, H.C. “Ladd” Hitch, whose family homesteaded the Hitch Ranch, Willingham took on active leadership roles for various industry associations.

“I love being associated with the industry and its great people,” Willingham said. “Being engaged with cattle associations gave my wife, Jane, and me the opportunity to travel, experience new things and make a difference.”

Willingham is the past president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and served on the operating committee of the Cattlemen's Beef Board; the Board of Directors of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and as chairman of the promotion committee of the National Livestock and Meat Board. He is past president of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the Texas Beef Council, the Texas Agricultural Land Trust and the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Willingham maintains an active role in state and national organizations. He currently serves on the NCBA tax and audit committee and trustee and treasurer of the National Cattlemen's Foundation, where he serves on the Environmental Stewardship Award selection committee. He is also the board chair of the Texas Rangers Law Enforcement Association.

To register for the National Golden Spur Award dinner, contact Vicki Quinn-Williams at 806-834-0469 or register online at ranchingheritage.org. The reservation deadline is Oct. 6. Tickets are $95 for Ranching Heritage Association members, $125 for non-members, $2,500 for a choice table for eight, and $5,000 for a prime table for eight.

About the National Golden Spur Award

Established in 1978, the award is jointly sponsored by the American Quarter Horse Association, the National Cattlemen's Foundation, the Ranching Heritage Association, the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.