In 1952, Chris Parker graduated from Sylacauga High School and Jimmy Pursell graduated from what is now Auburn University with a degree in business. The pair met through a mutual friend, Jim Nabors, and married in California in 1953, where Nabors sang, ushered, and served as best man. After attending Mary Baldwin College in Virginia, Chris worked for many years at Parker Fertilizer, the business started by her father, Howard Parker. Jimmy joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a bombardier/navigator during the Korean conflict.
Upon completion of his military service, Jimmy was invited to join the family business. One of his first tasks was to market the company’s newest product, Sta-Green Fertilizer. When Howard Parker died in 1964, Jimmy became company president. In 1985, the company created a sulphur-coated urea plant to make controlled-release fertilizer, one of only four in the world. By 1991, the company had built its first plant for producing POLYON®, its patented, ultra-thin-plastic-coated fertilizer. In 1997, the consumer division of Parker Fertilizer was sold and the remaining portion became Pursell Technologies, Inc.
In 2001, Jimmy, Chris, and their children established Pursell Farms, a beautiful 3,500-acre site in Sylacauga, Alabama that was once the site of the Old Hamilton Plantation. Today, Pursell Farms is home to FarmLinks, an 18-hole championship golf course featured as the world’s first research and demonstration course. More than 1,000 golf course and nursery professionals visit each year to learn firsthand about the latest in state-of-the art golf course innovations.
In addition to their entrepreneurial successes, Jimmy and Chris are generous philanthropists and civic leaders whose impact is felt throughout a number of faith-based, educational, civic, and government-related organizations in Alabama and beyond including the Sylacauga Public Library, Sylacauga City Schools Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Fellowship of Companies for Christ, Alabama Ethics Commission and last, but certainly not least, their beloved Auburn University.
Jimmy and Chris have three children — Taylor, Chris (Fleming), and David — 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. True believers in the Auburn Creed, Jimmy and Chris are the gold standard for what it truly means to live the exemplary life that George Petrie envisioned for generation after generation of Auburn men and women.
Jimmy and Chris Pursell celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in July 2013. The couple continues to be staunch supporters of Auburn and its pursuit of excellence through generously funding the James T. Pursell Sr. Eminent Scholar Chair in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, the Jimmy and Chris Pursell Endowed Professorship in the Department of Horticulture in the College of Agriculture, and Auburn Athletics.