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Egg, poultry executive John Wallace dies at 77


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG -- John P. Wallace, a retired egg and poultry industry executive and member of a prominent political family with ties to both the Democratic and Republican parties, has died at 77.

Mr. Wallace, founder of Wallace Hatchery, one of the Southeast's largest egg producers, and nephew of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace, died Tuesday (March 6, 2001) at home.

A registered Democrat, he was the husband of Martha Rudy Wallace, a Republican who formerly served on the Pinellas County School Board, and the father of Peter Rudy Wallace, a Democrat who was speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

His father-in-law, Merle F. Rudy, was a founder of the Pinellas County Republican Party. His Uncle Henry was the liberal vice president whom Franklin Roosevelt passed over for Harry Truman in 1944. A grandfather, Henry C. Wallace, was secretary of agriculture in the Harding and Coolidge administrations.

In yet another political connection, a sister-in-law, Sally Wallace, served for eight years on the nonpartisan St. Petersburg City Council.

John Powell Wallace, who became one of the world's top exporters of breeding chicks, was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and came to St. Petersburg as an infant with his parents, Margaret and John B. Wallace. His father was an insurance executive who started what is now Wallace, Welch and Willingham.

With degrees in meteorology from the University of Chicago and in commerce from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he began Wallace Hatcheries in 1948. His uncle, Henry A. Wallace, controlled Pioneer Hybrid Corn Co. and its subsidiary, Hy-Line Chicks, in Des Moines, and he worked there for about a year.

Arranging to distribute Hy-Line hybrid layer chickens in the South, he began with a single, small building on Haines Road. As the business grew, it expanded to include distribution to Latin America.

He retired 10 years ago as president of Wallace International but continued to serve as chairman.

In 1962, he received the president's "E" award for excellence in export. In 1999 he was named to the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame.

He was chairman of the Self Help And Resource Exchange Council of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Science at the University of Florida.

Active in many poultry organizations, he was the first chairman of the American Egg Board and president of the Florida Poultry Federation.

In World War II he was an Army Air Forces meteorologist.

He was a trustee of the Florida Orchestra and recipient of the Golden Baton award. He belonged to the boards of the Tampa Bay Research Institute, SouthTrust Bank and Hi-Bred International. He was a Kiwanian, an elder of First Presbyterian Church and a member of the Yacht Club.

In addition to his wife of 51 years, survivors include five sons, John R., Raleigh, N.C., Thomas R. and Peter R., both of St. Petersburg, James, Philadelphia, and David A., Sarasota; a brother, William P., St. Petersburg; and nine grandchildren.

Friends may call from 4 to 6 p.m. today at Anderson-McQueen Funeral Homes & Cremation Tribute Center-Ninth Street Chapel, 2201 Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) St. N. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, 701 Beach Drive NE. Burial will be private.

The family suggests memorial contributions to First Presbyterian Church, the Florida Orchestra, Tampa Bay Research Institute or the Eckerd College Waterfront Program.

- Information from Times files was used in this obituary.

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