We were deeply saddened to learn that our friend, mentor, and advisor Sam Dryden died this morning. Sam led our foundation’s agricultural development work for years, shaping the way we think about development in general, and even after his illness forced him to step down, he continued to work tirelessly toward a better future for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Sam’s childhood as the son of poor farmers in Kentucky led him to imbue this work with more humanity than anyone else we know. Smallholder farmers weren’t a category to him; they were people, and the food-system cartoon he always carried around had a picture of a farmer right in the middle, to remind everybody who we were working for.
Sam’s generosity as a friend and mentor to us and countless others was legendary. He was as likely to be on the phone with the waiter at his favorite restaurant or the young son or daughter of an old friend as with the head of the World Food Programme or the minister of agriculture of a large country. Sam was curious about everyone. He loved everyone. And so many people loved him back. As two of those people, we thank him for what we learned from him, for the impact his work had on millions, and for the joy he brought into our lives.