In 1948, with no formal agriculture education and very little experience, Leland Stratton and a partner purchased a small seed plant in Stuttgart. Driven by the notion that rice farmers on the Grand Prairie had a need for high-quality seed, Stratton spent his life, time and money seeing that those needs were met. Today, Stratton Seed Co. is the largest seed production, conditioning and marketing company in the South. Its state-of-the-art seed facilities, which were built under the guidance of Stratton, have a combined capacity of 3.6 million bushels of bulk storage, 468,000 square feet of warehouse space and 16,000 square feet of office space. In addition to its rice, soybean and wheat seed, the company produces farm-chemical and fertilizer products. Celebrating its 60th birthday in February 2008, Stratton Seed Co. is recognized in the industry as the “standard for quality.” While Stratton has never retired and still stays active in his company’s affairs, in 2006 because of health issues, he turned over the daily management of the business to his son Wendell. In 1992, the Arkansas Seed Dealers Association presented Stratton with the Pioneer Award for his contributions to the seed industry. In addition to being a member of that organization, Stratton has been involved with the Southern Seed Association, Arkansas Crop Protection Association, Arkansas Plant Food Association and the Arkansas Seed Growers Association, where he was president from 1971-75. Outside of agriculture, Stratton served on the Stuttgart School Board from 1961-71 and was its president from 1963-67. He is an active Rotarian and was Stuttgart Rotary Club president from 1960-61. He attends First Baptist Church of Stuttgart, where he has served as Bible study teacher, deacon, deacon chairman and in other leadership positions. Born Jan. 12, 1916, in Ray, N.D., Stratton is a graduate of Stuttgart High School. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force pilot-training program and was a power and glider pilot in WWII. He fought in the Allied invasion over the Rhine River at Wesel, Germany, on March 24, 1945. Stratton was awarded the Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds he sustained when his plane was hit. After Germany surrendered, he left the military.