Jim Ussary, a founder of one of Columbia’s major employers, dies

Jim Ussary Sr., one of the founders of one of Columbia’s top employers, died on March 10, 2022, according to this March 11, 2022 obituary in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

But you could be excused if you didn’t recognize his name today.

Ussary was one of the three founders of ABC Laboratories when it was founded in 1968.  It was acquired by Eurofins EAG. in 2015, and today the firm employs nearly 400 people. This puts it among Columbia’s top 25 employers.

But Ussary was one of ABC Labs’ first employees — and for a while only employee — after it was founded. His crucial role in getting the firm off the ground is outlined in the book “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks,” written by Charles W. Gehrke, one of the other founders of the firm, and Dianna Borsi O’Brien, the founder of CoMoHistoricPlaces.com.

Ussary, interviewed for the book, said at first his work at ABC Labs was day and night, seven days a week. By 1975, the company was at a turning point and he was now overseeing 13 employees. Still, he said, all that work had taken its toll and he was ready for a less taxing job. He said during his time at ABC Labs, he was always on call for any and everything from fixing the roof to scientific work analyzing chemicals, pesticides and other substances.

When Ussary left ABC Labs, the March 11, 2022 article states he “joined ICI Americas in Goldsboro, N.C. as manager of residue chemical and manager of quality assurance. The final 25 years of his career were spent as a private contractor in the agriculture chemistry and data quality assurance.”

At his death, Ussary was a resident of Goldsboro, N.C. He is survived by his wife Betty, son, James Jr.  and two grandchildren, as well as his brother John Ussary of Agency, Missouri, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune’s article. The obituary noted that  Seymour Funeral Home in charge of servies and online condolences can be left at  www.seymourfuneralhome.com.

The book From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks can be purchased via this website or at Yellowdog Bookstore or the Boone County History and Culture Center.

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