JAMES E. ECHOLS, the first cotton industry member to hold the newly created position of chairman of the National Cotton Council and a cotton merchant in Memphis, Tenn., has died. He was 65.

Echols held a number of industry positions during his career. But it was as chairman of the Cotton Council that he will be best remembered. He guided the NCC during the opening stages of the debate on the 2002 farm bill and helped see it to a successful conclusion.

He had retired in April after serving as president and chief executive officer of Memphis-based Cargill Cotton Co., for 13 years. Echols spent 43 with Cargill Cotton, formerly known as Hohenberg Brothers Co.

Besides serving as chairman of the NCC, he also was a former president and chairman of Cotton Council International, the overseas promotion and marketing arm of the cotton industry.