Jimmy Blitch, the owner of Blitch Place Farm and a man of enduring faith, passed away Thursday. He was 88.
Blitch Place Farm, a five-generation diversified farm in Bulloch County, was founded in 1896. When he started as a farmer, Jimmy Blitch worked with his father and brother. His son Matt joined the farm operation in 1988 and his grandson Matthew joined them in 2016. Currently, the farm includes a 275-head brood cow herd and, through the years, Blitch Place has produced tobacco, wheat, oats, rye, Bahia grass, peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans, timber, cattle and swine.
The funeral service will be held at First Baptist Church in Statesboro on Monday at 11 a.m. with visitation to follow.
“Just a stellar individual and we are so sad not to have him with us anymore,” said Jody Stubbs, with Stubbs Oil. “But he is in Heaven, and we do know that because of his lifestyle. It’s a beautiful picture. His family is so buoyed by the knowledge he is in Heaven. There is sadness at his loss today, but that will be short-lived. They know the ending. It’s a beautiful ending. But it is tough right now.”
Blitch was born in Savannah and spent most of his early years there until his father moved the family back to Statesboro in 1943 to farm Blitch Place. He graduated from Statesboro High School in 1949 and entered the University of Georgia at the age of 15, where he graduated with honors from the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences with a degree of Animal Husbandry and Agriscience.
“Jimmy Blitch was one of my favorite people,” said long-time friend Bill Golden, “I first got to know him back in the 1950s when we were both students at the University of Georgia’s College of Agriculture. Jimmy was a couple of years ahead of me, but I remember even as a student, he was serious about farming and following the best practices.
“When I came to Statesboro with the Extension Service, it gave me a chance to renew our friendship. About once a week, I’d go out to his farm and he’d ride around looking at his herd of beef cattle. He was one of the largest and most progressive beef cattle operators in this area. He was proud of his cattle breeding program, his high standards of calf weight and weight gain.”
Wendell Brannen, who founded Tillman & Deal Farm Supply, said he admired Blitch’s ambition in always looking for new and better ways to farm.
“I respected him so much as a farmer because he was so innovative in his farming practices,” Brannen said. “Going way back to the 60s, he was always ahead of the curve when it came to farming practices. For example, he implemented no-till farming and strip-till farming early on. As equipment improved, more and more other farmers began to use the methods he was using for years.”
Fellow farmer Chap Cromley said he always looked up to Blitch.
“I have lost a dear friend,” Cromley said. “Our farming community has lost a dear friend. Mr. Jimmy was an innovator. He would share ideas that would make us better stewards of the land, or how to raise better cattle. Even as he got older, his mind was churning with the enthusiasm of a much younger person. He was a man of integrity, dignity, of great faith and respected by all. I am assured he is in a better place.”
Blitch served as president of the Georgia Crop Improvement Association, spending 12 years on the executive board of the Georgia Peanut Commission, including national research, and serving six years on the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Advisory Council.
“I can’t say enough about the years he served on the Georgia Peanut Commission Board,” Brannen said. “He brought so many good ideas and sound thoughts to that group that helped the industry as a whole throughout the state.”
Blitch was a member and deacon of First Baptist Church Statesboro, where he led a class for boys and educated them on Jesus along with a little Georgia football.
“I first met Jimmy when I was 8 years old in Sunday school at First Baptist Church,” Stubbs said. “He was a very fine Sunday School teacher to us young boys. He let us talk about the University of Georgia football games before we got to the class, because he loved the Bulldogs. But also got to the meat of what we were there for. He taught us some dignity. That we needed to open our Bibles and realize that everyone is a sinner and everyone needs a savior and there’s only one of those – Jesus Christ the Lord. I think most everyone in that class went on to become born again.”
In his obituary, Blitch’s family wrote: “The foundation of his life were his family, faith and farming.” And Wendell Brannen said that summed up his friend perfectly.
“He loved the land. He respected the land,” Brannen said. “You could feel the presence of God in everything he did. I so much valued the time I was given to spend with him.”