Wampler leaves lasting legacy of generosity

William Wampler

By Amy Loeffler

William “Bill” D. Wampler had many meaningful relationships that started on the Virginia Tech campus, but the one that blossomed in the 1940s was his most personal.

As a teenager from the Shenandoah Valley, Wampler was in Blacksburg for the annual 4-H Congress when he met fellow 4-H’er Bonnie Lou May. The two hit it off instantly and before long, fell in love and married.

The couple maintained a deep connection to Virginia Tech even after Bill graduated in 1950 with a degree in poultry husbandry and joined the family business of raising turkeys. After he graduated, he not only looked to his alma mater for advice, he also opened up the Wampler farms and facilities to Virginia Tech faculty members for field-testing and applied research.

“When you talk about someone who is a benefactor, you usually talk about their financial gifts. But Bill Wampler was interested in sharing gifts of information and expertise, too,” said Paul Siegel, university distinguished professor emeritus of animal and poultry sciences.

Siegel became a close friend of Wampler’s when he was enlisted to help Wampler in determining the best way to increase production of his flock of turkeys.

Wampler and wife, Bonnie Lou

He met his wife, Bonnie Lou, when the two were on campus for 4-H Congress.

Wampler passed away in March at the age of 86, but the impact he made on Virginia Tech — and on Virginia agriculture — will live on for generations.

“In addition to his significant leadership and service to the poultry industry, Bill exemplified the Virginia Tech motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve),” said Alan Grant, dean of the college. “His service to Virginia Tech and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences includes gifts of time, treasure, and talents that have spanned many decades.”

As a youth, Wampler served on the state FFA executive committee and as state 4-H president in 1947. Both he and Bonnie Lou remained active supporters of 4-H and FFA over the years and received state and national recognition for their participation in the organizations.

The couple also supported the construction of the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena where the Wampler Classroom is housed. Today it is a space that hosts numerous Virginia Cooperative Extension events, outreach, and youth activities.

Another testament to his legacy at Virginia Tech is the Wampler Conference Room, a hallmark of the college, located in Litton-Reaves Hall. The room chronicles the evolution of the Wampler family’s development of innovations that led to the creation of the modern poultry enterprise through a museum-quality pictorial timeline. The Wampler family is universally credited for establishing modern scientific methods and pioneering vertical integration in the poultry industry.

Wampler also established and supported numerous endowments benefiting the college and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

In 2004, Wampler was named to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame, a distinction that honors those individuals who have given outstanding service to the college.