THE LATE James E. Echols, a long-time Memphis cotton merchant and a former National Cotton Council chairman and industry leader, was named the recipient of the 2005 Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award.

The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision and tireless efforts were foremost in the organization and shaping of the NCC more than 60 years ago. The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her active business career.

Recognizing more than office or position held, the award honors someone who, like Johnston, exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.

Outgoing NCC Chairman Woody Anderson said Echols' dedication and commitment to the cotton industry was known across the country, and the leadership he provided was invaluable.

Echols served the cotton industry for 43 years, and was the fourth merchant to hold the NCC's top leadership position. He also served as president and chairman of Cotton Council International and was a past president of the Southern Cotton Association and the American Cotton Shippers Association.

Echols began his career at Hohenberg Brothers in 1960 and retired as its president in 2003.