Two longtime area organization directors with the Alabama Farmers Federation etched a new title on their business cards last month — retiree.
With their Nov. 27 retirements, Tom Jones of Decatur, 62, and Ralph Golden of Prattville, 60, took with them more than 70 years of combined service to Alfa Insurance customers and Federation members. Though Jones has served as the field man for north Alabama since 1987, his history with the organization began years before.
“Dad was an area organization director, and my son, Adam, is an Alfa claims adjuster. I guess you could say Alfa and the Farmers Federation are just part of my life, of my family,” said Jones, a graduate of Florence State University (now the University of North Alabama).
Like his son, Jones began his career with Alfa in 1977 as a claims adjuster before joining the Federation staff. His background with both divisions provided a unique perspective and opportunity to work with urban and rural residents alike. During his tenure with the organization, Jones developed a love for the company and its people.
“I’ve worked here nearly 37 years, and it’s the people that make the job,” Jones said. “I’ll miss them, and I’ll miss the company. Alfa has been good to me over the years, and a good company is only good when it’s filled with good people — and we have the best. I always say it’s not a one-pony show; it takes everyone working together to be successful, and we all pitch in and work hard.”
Jones said he doesn’t have any specific plans for retirement and will just “take each day as it comes.” He and wife Jennifer have two children and four granddaughters. They are active members of Beltline Church of Christ.
In 1978, Golden was hired as director of the Rural Property Protection Division while he was completing graduate school at Auburn University Montgomery. He said he didn’t expect to stay in town the rest of his life, but that’s exactly what he did.
“Since I was 24 years old, this company has been my whole life,” said Golden, who farmed in Autaugaville with his family before joining the Federation. “I truly think of it as a family, not a job. It’s like nothing else I could have ever expected. The conservative philosophy of the organization mirrors the conservative track by which I was raised, and here I am nearly 36 years later, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
A few years after coming on board with Rural Property Protection, Golden transitioned to Young Farmers director before finding his niche with the field staff in 1989. Throughout his positions with the company, he said the people have made the biggest impact on his life and is what he will miss the most.
“It’s been a privilege to serve the farmers of Alabama, especially those in my area,” he said. “I love the people I work with, and I love my county people. I believe in what we’re doing as an organization for the people of this state, and I know firsthand just how important farming is to Alabama. It’s been an honor to give back.”
Golden said his plans for retirement are pretty open, but he does want to travel around the world and get more involved at Autaugaville United Methodist Church.
During their time with the Federation, Jones and Golden have worked hard for Alabama’s farmers. Organization Department Director Mike Tidwell said their experience and dedication to members of the state’s largest farm organization would be missed in the office and in the field.
“It has been a great honor to work with these guys,” Tidwell said. “You won’t find better folks. They’re more than coworkers; they’re friends. While I’m excited about the future, these guys take with them a lot of established relationships, knowledge of the company’s history and overall experience. Their dedication to the Alabama Farmers Federation and the hard-working men and women we represent is immeasurable. I hope Tom and Ralph enjoy retirement — they certainly deserve it.”