As a leader in the poultry industry in the 1970s, Dalton was vice president and general manager of Valmac Industries, a broiler processor in Arkansas, later acquired by Tyson Foods. During those years he served on the board of directors of what was then Southeastern Poultry & Egg Association, now U.S. Poultry& Egg Association (USPOULTRY). He was elected chairman in 1978.
In 1989, Dalton joined the staff of the association as vice president of government relations and the International Poultry Expo. He was named president in 1992 following the retirement of longtime executive director Harold Ford.
During his years with the association, the International Poultry Expo (now the International Production & Processing Expo) extended its long run as the world’s largest poultry industry event. The organization continued to reinvest millions of dollars into the industry through research funding. He led the expansion of education programs, keeping industry management informed and up to date.
Dalton initiated a USPOULTRY food safety and live production program to provide technical assistance to member firms and work more closely with government agencies. He also established an environmental management department to assist poultry companies with increasing environmental challenges.
He was instrumental in creating the U.S. Poultry & Egg Harold E. Ford Foundation, named for his predecessor. The original purpose of the Foundation was to fund the recruitment of students for careers in the poultry industry. It now also provides funding for vital industry research.
Dalton retired in November 2007. Subsequently, USPOULTRY honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2008, the Poultry Science Association recognized his contributions to the industry as the recipient of its Merial Select Distinguished Poultry Industry Career Award. In 2010, he was honored by the American Poultry Historical Society as an inductee into the Poultry Hall of Fame.
Born in St. Louis, Dalton received his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He completed the program for management development at the Harvard School of Management. He enlisted in the Arkansas Air National Guard in 1957. After several call-ups to active duty, he ultimately retired as brigadier general and commander of the Arkansas National Guard.
John Starkey, Dalton’s successor and current president of USPOULTRY, said: “We have lost a true patriot, a great leader, a patient mentor and a very dear friend. Our hearts go out to Pat and their family at this difficult time. Don will be greatly missed by many.”