The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) honored Paul Hitch, a cattleman and longtime livestock industry leader from Guymon, Okla., last week at the 2008 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in Reno, Nev.

Best known for his success in cattle feeding, Hitch is president and chairman of Hitch Enterprises, Inc. and Hitch AgriBusiness, Inc. —  diversified agricultural operations based in the Oklahoma panhandle region.  

Hitch is a former chairman of the NCBA Policy Division and NCBA Live Cattle Marketing Committee. He had served the past two years as vice-president and president-elect of NCBA. But he was unable to accept a term as NCBA president, due to an ongoing bout with cancer.

NCBA officers presented Hitch with a letter of appreciation for decades of outstanding service to the association, as well as his leadership in state and local cattlemen's organizations.

"At every level on which you have served, your fellow cattlemen have benefited from your knowledge, candor, and good old-fashioned common sense. It has truly been an honor to serve at your side, and we are all richer for the experience," the officers said.

Addressing a large audience of cattlemen, Hitch invoked the memory of New York Yankee legend Lou Gehrig. After being diagnosed with the fatal disease that would later bear his name, Gehrig gave an emotional farewell speech to a Yankee Stadium crowd, saying, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." 

"I always thought that was odd. I thought Lou Gehrig was insane," Hitch said. "But today, I know that Lou Gehrig was the luckiest man in the world. Because today I am the luckiest man in the world, because I have you. You make me the luckiest man in the world, and I thank you for it."