Texas Connects Us: Kaufman County Farmer Surprised With FFA Jacket 66 Years Later

A Kaufman County farmer has spent a lifetime mentoring and supporting young farmers. He never expected anything in return until he received the one gift he could never give.

"His name is Bill, but Papa is everybody's Papa," said his daughter-in-law, Leslie Harrell.

For decades, Kaufman County farmer Bill Harrell has supported the Crandall chapter of Future Farmers of America. He's helped raise donations for local shows and given his time and wisdom to eager young farmers.

"I've always had to work to make a good living and always tried to do right by everybody," Bill Harrell said.

"He'll go out of his way to support us," said his grandson, Grayson Harrell.

He raised his son and three grandsons in FAA and became determined to see other young farmers have opportunities he never had, like wearing the symbolic blue FFA jacket with pride. But wearing that jacket is something he never got to do.

"I don't want to say we were poor, but it was just something I couldn't afford, and I always wanted one," said Bill Harrell, about why he never received a jacket while a member in the Wolfe City FFA.

So when his 80th birthday rolled around his grandsons knew it was time to give their grandfather the one gift he could never give.

Surrounded by his family, friends and those whom he'd mentored through the years, his family surprised him first with an unexpected party and then with his own blue corduroy – 66 years late.

"I will never forget it," Bill Harrell said. "Biggest surprise I ever had in my life."

"He always wanted us to have that jacket, and it only felt right to be able to repay him," Grayson Harrell said.

"He gives and gives and gives. He always gets something back, because he enjoys giving, but it's fun to give something back to him," said Leslie Harrell, who reached out to several people within FFA to pull off the surprise.

From Bill Harrell's view, a life this rich with family and friends, is the best gift of all.

"I don't think you could have any one better," Bill Harrell said.

A post about the gift on his daughter-in-law's Facebook page went viral. She says Bill Harrell is enjoying his new internet fame, even though he's never used social media. He makes his family read him everyone's comments on his story.

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