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'I take life very serious,' says Bishop, 'but I see humor in our lives.'

-- Photo by Tom Jones

Name:
Luther Olen "L.O." Bishop

Age:
75

Residence:
Cherokee in Colbert County, Ala., between Florence and Iuka, Miss.

Alfa Member Since:
1945

Current Office or Board:
President of the Colbert County Farmers Federation.

Previous Office(s) or Board:
"I was on the State Board from 1973 to 1978, and then I was First Vice President of the North District from 1978-1992 (14 years), and was off the board for five years and then came back and served three terms on the State Board after that. I've now been off the State Board for four years, a total of 28 years on the board."

My Farm:
"We've got corn this year, some land in conservation programs and we raise hogs on contract with someone else now. Last year, we had soybeans and the year before, we had wheat. I've made 39 cotton crops in my career, but hadn't had any in a long time now, since 1993. We also sell barbecue."

Note: L.O. has been known to hand out a business card that reads, "Hawgs, Dawgs, Grains and Gran Chillen."

My Barbecue Business:
"Bishop's Barbecue was started back when a friend went out of the restaurant business in back in 1975. We had a friend who went out of the restaurant business in 1975, and I put a building up 30-feet wide, 40-feet deep and had a 16-foot pit along one side. We played with it -- catering special occasions like Labor Day, birthdays, weddings and divorces. Whenever the wind changed direction, we'd have a barbecue. I did that for 10 years, and then we got our state inspection and began selling in stores. We've been sold in stores now for 24 years, and today we have two pits that will hold two 1,250 pounds of Boston butts each. Normally, we cook two days a week and package it right on the farm. We package it while it's hot and sell it in three-quarter-pound bags to stores and restaurants in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. "

"Bishop's Barbecue" has also been served at countless political functions to U.S. senators and congressmen. "Oh yeah, we'll let them eat too," Bishop says. "We can't deny them just because they hold that position."

The Coon Dog Cemetery:
After years of catering "Decoration Day" at the famed Coon Dog Cemetery, L.O. has become an ardent supporter of the famous final resting place where about 200 coon dogs from all across the United States are interred, including 'Troop' who was buried on Labor Day 1937. The cemetery is about 15 miles from his home in the Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area.

When tour groups visit the site, L.O. will hide a recording of barking dogs on the hunt in the woods before their arrival. "I have a lot of fun with that tape," Bishop says. "I tell them that I turned the dogs loose about an hour ago and they've got something treed."

I'm Proud Of...:
"My years with the Alabama Farmers Federation, and helping get things done for farmers."

My Family:
L.O. and his wife, Grace, have been married 56 years. "We made a bad mistake when we married," he says laughing. "She was 17 and I was 19. We should've married at 16 and 18, and we'd had another year in. We can't get that year back now!"

He has three children -- daughters Darlene Morgan and Patti Mangum and son Luther who L.O. calls "the backbone" of the business now. "If it wasn't for him," L.O. says, "there wouldn't be a Bishop's Barbecue."

The Bishops also have six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

My Faith:
Member, Wallsboro Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

My Sense of Humor:
"I take life very serious, but I see humor in our lives. But life itself? Nobody is more serious than I am. It's important to laugh and have humor in our life. To me, other people are the most important thing in all our lives. We are nothing without other people."

-- Compiled by Darryal Ray


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