Born in Fairfield at the turn of the century as the son of a town doctor, Henry Gatrell was expected to pursue a career in medicine. Instead, he chose to make agriculture his lifelong vocation and became the largest swine exporter in the United States. Gatrell graduated from Reddick High School and attended Tulane University. He was the owner and operator of a ZOO-acre general farm in his hometown where he raised purebred Duroc swine.
Following World War lIt Gatrell initiated and organized swine exhibits at the Florida State Fair and other state fairs. In the early 19409, Gatrell's Duree Farm began a thriving swine export business by shipping their purebred stock to Central and South America by air.
Gatrell is credited with the donations that started the swine breeding herds at the University of Florida and Florida A&M University. Throughout his career, he was devoted to agricultural youth programs with swine projects in the United States and fourteen foreign countries. He invited many 4-H and FFA livestock judging teams to practice on his farm and hosted many agricultural tour groups from the U.s. and Latin America.
Far-sighted in his concern for the improvement of the swine industry, he produced the first certified boar in Florida and was instrumental in the development of the Swine Evaluation Center in Live Oak. The center benefitted Florida's swine industry by identifying sires that dramatically improved the quality of the swine population. Gatrell served as an advisor to this center until his death.
Gatrell was a leader of tl)e committee created to eradicate hog cholera in Florida in the 19605 and 19705. He served as an industry advisor to Commissioners of Agriculture Nathan Mayo and Doyle Conner. On the local and state level, Gatrell was active in many agricultural and civic organizations. He was active in the Fairfield Presbyterian Church and served on Florida's International Trade Council. He served on the Marion County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Committee for 20 years and also served on the Marion County Extension Swine Advisory Committee. As part of the Advisory Committee, he was influential in raising funds for a new Marion County Agricultur(il Center. He was a director of the Florida Swine Association and a Director for the Sbutheastern Duroc Congress.
His contributions to the swine industry were recognized when he was chosen in 1956 to be the first recipient of the Florida Outstanding Swine Producer A ward from the Florida Swine Association. The Future Farmers of America bestowed its State Farmer's Degree on him in 1959 and in 1971, he was recognized for his contributions to Florida Agriculture by the Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents.
Gatrell died March 14, 1973. He was 73.