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Darr in rare company with Key to the City award

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Last edited 2 p.m., Sept. 20, 2022

Southwest Missouri businessperson Bill Darr yesterday received the rare Key to the City honor from Mayor Ken McClure.

Darr, who in 2019 sold pet food ingredient providers American Dehydrated Foods and International Dehydrated Foods for $900 million, was recognized for his business and philanthropic work, according to a news release. A ceremony was held on Monday to recognize Darr.

“In addition to being an innovative entrepreneur, providing local jobs and supporting the community for decades, Bill is compassionate and caring, creative and thoughtful,” McClure said in the release. “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.”

Darr is the benefactor behind the William H. Darr College of Agriculture at Missouri State University, and his Darr Family Foundation has awarded more than $2.7 million in grants to local organizations serving at-risk children since it was established in 2002. He received Springfield Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement in Business award in 2011.

In receiving the Key to the City, Darr joins late Evangel University President Robert Spence, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and former city leader Mary Lilly Smith as the only recipients during McClure's five-year tenure. City spokesperson Cora Scott said the city clerk's office did not track previous Key to the City awards prior to McClure's time as mayor.

When Spence received the Key to the City honor in 2020, SBJ reported it was the first given out since former City Council member Ralph Manley received one more than 10 years earlier.

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