Stone Gregory with his Gregory's Three-Way Mulch.
The tall, lanky man wore battered shoes, dusty work clothes, and a frayed straw hat above his perpetually concerned lean face. He stood silently in the hall of the County Office Building, the tension of an active brain showing a worried expression in his every mannerism. A clerk walked by, turned back: “If you are looking for the Welfare Department, they've moved their office.” He flushed and explained he was waiting to see the county agent.
The man was Col. S. Stone Gregory, 42-year-old manufacturer, farmer, speculator on ventures ranging from patents to stocks, whose activities and antics have already made him a legend among the amazed neighbors and his admiring business associates all over the world. His products, comparatively unheralded in his own home area, reach out to forty-seven states and fifty-three foreign countries. A Japanese family enjoying the particularly savory hickory flavor of their charcoaled beef, or a Danish weekend, backyard chef may all be indebted to white hickory trees grown on Gregory's farm of several thousand acres ten miles east of Chatham.
A remarkable, eight-day-a-week man, the retired Army colonel operates his worldwide business from a rough-floored office in the back of his typical, “jot-'em-down” country store which his father started in 1903. Dressed in his usual working clothes of khaki pants, brogans, and usually battered hat, he may be host in office — which has one whole wall covered with business cards — to a merchant from Spain, a wholesaler from California, or a sharecropper who wants to know about which crops to plant.
Relying only on himself to manage his rapidly growing businesses, he is in process of shifting his products for outdoor living into more rapid production. Before World War II he had begun his operations utilizing the natural resources of the farm. Since resigning from the Regular Army in 1947, he has put his efforts into producing and promoting his seven major products: hickory smoke wheels and hickory smoke meal (both used to flavor charcoal-cooked meats and fish), Three-Way Mulch (an organic, all-purpose plant food supplement), Bright Tobacco Stem Meal (also a plant food supplement, insecticide and used in dog kennels and fowl range areas), Virgin Fir Logs (decorative or burning fireplace logs), Grill (lightweight aluminum portable grill for charcoaling outdoors), and Plate Mate (spun wire attaching to a place to hold cup or beverage).
Employees bag Gregory's Three-Way Mulch for distribution.
All the products carry the name “Gregory's” and come from Gregory General Farms, Java, Virginia, a post office with only an area community.
As if this were not enough to keep him busy, he also manages one of the largest tobacco acreages in Virginia and conducts a farm management service. From his general store — which a motorist easily finds from a series of announcing signs from either direction — Gregory sells products from the “cradle to the grave.” His store handles diapers and, in a building nearby, he keeps on stock six coffins he sells when the occasion arises.
Setting records of achievement is nothing new to Gregory. Being educated at Randolph-Macon Academy, the Citadel and West Point, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the army in 1940. Four years later — after serving in the campaigns of Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany — he was commissioned a colonel — at 24 years of age, the youngest in the American army for World War II. He received fourteen citations and awards.
Gregory holds an even dozen trademarks, copyrights and patents. His interests include a tobacco curer and a new method of tying tobacco leaves for curing. He is still active in the Army Reserve, commanding the 2379th Infantry Division. Gregory will never be idle, so complain his wife and five children who see him between business ventures. The eldest of three sons, he is known or disliked in his home county of Pittsylvania for a bluntness that includes openly expressing any of his opinions or asking rapid questions to feed his inquisitive mind.
Stone Gregory and his sons John and Stone III, with hickory wheels.
As long as his health holds — and his athletic background satisfies this — he will continue to push into new fields. Judging from his parents who are still active at 83 for his father and 73 for his mother, he count on around 60 more years to work on the varied projects. And the astronauts should not be too surprised to reach the moon and find Col. S. Stone Gregory there ahead of them — packaging and marketing Gregory's Bright Moon Dust for that “out of this world flavor.”
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