SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Humanitarian, philanthropist, child advocate, entrepreneur and higher education champion, William “Bill” Darr was presented with the Key to the City by Mayor Ken McClure earlier today.

Darr has given back to his alma mater, Missouri State University, quite a bit over the years, especially at the Darr College of Agriculture which is named after him.

Darr began his agriculture education in the 1950’s at Southwest Missouri State Teacher’s College, now Missouri State University.

After opening his first company, Pets and Such, in Jackson, Mississippi, Darr founded American Dehydrated Foods, Inc. (ADF) in 1978 and moved back to Springfield soon after.

After 40 years, Darr opened up four more companies specializing in dehydrated food products.

“In addition to being an innovative entrepreneur, providing local jobs and supporting the community for decades, Bill is compassionate and caring, creative and thoughtful,” said Mayor Ken McClure. “Darr and his wife, Virginia, whom he married in 1988, 40 years after they first met, dedicate their lives to making the communities they are a part of better.”

According to the City’s press release, The Darrs have created many scholarships to help students pursue higher education, especially those from Ellington and those desiring to study at the Darr College of Agriculture.

They established the Darr Family Foundation in 2002 to continue Darr’s commitment to supporting people in need. To date, it has awarded more than $2.7 million in grant funding to local organizations serving at-risk children.

In 2018, the foundation allotted 60% of annual funding to early childhood education and literacy initiative. The aim is to improve kindergarten readiness and literacy skills among Springfield children ages birth through third grade. 

Darr is the third person to receive the Key to the City from Mayor McClure. Other recipients include the late Dr. Robert Spence and Johnny Morris.