Former MSU Extension director Bost dies



Mississippi State University

Dr. William Bost, Mississippi State Extension director from 1962-81 and namesake for the campus building housing MSU’s agricultural administration, died Friday morning at the age of 90.

He passed away at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo after a lengthy illness.

“It was with much sadness that I learned of the passing of Dr. Bill Bost,” MSU President Mark Keenum said. “He was a legendary figure in the history of Mississippi State University and his contributions will be long remembered. I have very fond memories of my interactions with him over the years.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his many friends in the Extension community.”

A resident of Starkville since 1959, Bost was born to Luther and Ida Russell Bost in Ecru on Jan. 7, 1924.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Elaine Fields Bost; his sister, Alvis Dechello of West Haven, Conn.; sons Bill Jr. (Diane) of Vicksburg, Steven (Gail) of Nashville, Tenn., and Larry Bost of Starkville; daughters Bonnie (Mike) Lasker of Birmingham, Ala., Suzanne (Gary) Thompson of Mound City, Kan., and Julie (Travis) Ferguson of Batesville; son-in-law Mike Nix of Huntsville, Ala. He was preceded in death by daughter Beth Nix.

Bost served his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After graduating from Mississippi State in 1949, he taught agriculture to war veterans at Ecru.

He began his career with the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service as assistant county agent in Calhoun County (1951-1955) and served as county agent in Tippah County from 1955 to 1958.

After completing his master’s degree in Extension Administration from Cornell University in 1959, Bost moved to MSU, where he served as MCES Northeast District Agent and later as associate director of MCES. He became director in 1962 and served in that capacity for 19 years.

Bost earned the Education Doctorate in Administration of Higher Education from the University of Mississippi in 1970.

As the MCES director, he led many initiatives, including consolidating all on-campus MCES offices. He began lobbying the state legislature in 1972 and received funding in 1974 for the complex that was completed in 1977 and now bears the name “Bost Extension Center.”

Bost’s directorship of the MCES led many other states to model themselves after Mississippi’s organization.

Bost’s career was devoted to improving the lives of all Mississippians through his work in agriculture and consumer sciences. He was named Progressive Farmer magazine’s Man of the Year in 1980. Gov. William Waller named him Outstanding Mississippian in 1980 for serving both rural and urban citizens’ needs.

He received two USDA Superior Service Awards and a National Association of County Agriculture Agents Distinguished Service Award. He was recognized with two state legislative decrees.

Bost served on several boards including the Mississippi Farm Bureau and the advisory boards of National Bank of Commerce of Mississippi and, later, Merchants and Farmers Bank, and the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, which was instrumental in establishing the Thad Cochran Research and Technology Park.

Bost was president of the Oktibbeha County Co-Op board of directors. He was a Rotarian and a devoted member and Sunday school teacher in the First United Methodist Church of Starkville.

Visitation will begin at noon with the service at 2 p.m. on Saturday, both at First United Methodist Church. Burial will follow at Memorial Garden Park in Starkville.

Welch Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. A guestbook will be located on their website at

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