JAY & COMMITTEE ... Jay Gould (left), the now-retired executive director of the Farm Service Agency office in Adams County, is with, from left, advisor Sharon Banning and committeemen Steve Conrad and Kevin Girod; standing is committeeman Ron Reynolds. (Photo by Eric Mann)
Many people in Adams County know what Jay Gould has been doing the past 45 years as an advisor and an aide to local farmers at two United States government agencies.
However, almost no one knows what Gould was doing in 1962.
As the 71-year-old rural Berne resident prepared to retire, he reported that, 48 years ago, he was a member of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division and was called to duty twice for major domestic and international events:
The first time was in summer to help James Meredith, an African-American student, enroll in the University of Mississippi among violent protests and confrontations with racist white mobs.
Then, in the fall, his division was called to prepare to invade Cuba if that was ordered during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The matter was settled peacefully by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, so the troops never left Florida.
Gould, whose last day on the job at the Farm Services Agency (FSA) office in Decatur was December 30, said of himself and his wife, Carolyn, "I'm sure we'll be as busy as ever" after he retires.
He was given a big sendoff during a recent five-hour open house in the FSA office.
Gould is a native of Adams County, having been born in rural Geneva to farming parents, Clyde and Lola Gould, and having graduated in 1957 from Decatur High School.
He graduated in 1961 from Indiana University with a major on business and a minor in English.
Right out of college, Gould said he wanted to expand his horizons, so he set off on a six-month hitchhiking tour of six European nations: England, France, Italy, Germany, Yugoslavia, and Greece.
He got along quite well in Europe and had fun visiting and inspecting a large number of museums, cathedrals, churches, etc. from an architectural point of view. He also kept a daily journal of his activities and said he learned a great deal from the people he met and the places he saw.
Upon returning from Europe, Gould served two years in the 82nd Airborne and was discharged with a rank of E4.
He recalled that when the division went to Mississippi, the commanders had the black soldiers stay behind on a base and used only white soldiers to face the angry white citizens because the officers did not want the Mississippians to become further enflamed by seeing armed black men.
In 1964, Jay married Alice Carolyn Hickey, who goes by her middle name, and they began a family that has grown to two sons, one daughter, two grandsons, and four granddaughters. Son Kirk is an engineer for Arizona Power in the Phoenix area; daughter Natasha is a substitute teacher and a horse raiser in rural Richmond, Indiana; and son Kenric works at the NAPA store in Berne and lives in that city. Gould's sister, also named Carolyn, lives with his daughter.
Coming back to Decatur, Gould briefly entered the fiberglass boat business with two friends and also did some work with another local man of note, Vic Porter, who was just getting into that field with Duo Boats.
In was in 1965 or 1966, according to Gould, that he began his federal government career in the Soil Conservation Service, noting that he took that job because it involved outdoor work, farming, and meeting people — all of which he liked.
In 1970, he switched to the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, as executive director. In 1979 or 1980, the ASCS became the Consolidated Farm Service Agency and, in 1990, the word "Consolidated" was dropped and the FSA was born.
In his long career, Jay said, "I've worked with some super people" on the local committees that help guide the agencies, on his office staffs, and, most importantly, on the farms in Adams County. One of his chief goals, he said, has been to make the many complex federal agriculture programs more accessible and understandable to farmers.
There are some 1,600 farmers here, he said, and farming remains a vital activity because food production is key to human survival. Gould said farming is still "strong" and "in good shape" overall in the county.
He estimates the overall economic impact in Adams County of agricultural production, property value, sales, wages etc. at $250 to $300 million a year.
As Gould retires from fulltime work, he said he will stay active as a member of the Adams County Economic Development Corp. Board. Board member Ed Coil, an Adams County commissioner, came to the open house and laughingly told Gould that the rest of the ACEDC board won't let him go.
Gould and his wife will stay involved in their church, Cross Community Church in Berne, and in family affairs.
He said he also plans to stay busy with the flower and produce auction site in rural Monroe that opened several years ago and is quite popular.