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Cattle Marketing Hall of Fame

The Cattle Marketing Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to competitive marketing and true price discovery.  These men and women are the backbone of the cattle industry.  Their efforts ensure a competitive marketplace, the foundation of the American Cattle Industry.  Without price discovery we become price-takers and lose our way of life.

 

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Robert Joe Fisher, Jr.
Oklahoma City, OK

Robert Joe Fisher, Jr. was born May 23, 1950, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He is a graduate of Oklahoma Military Academy, Claremore, Oklahoma as a First Lieutenant in 1968. He graduated with honors among which include Military Proficiency Ribbon and Dean's Honor Roll to mention a few. Upon graduation, he joined the United States Air Force for 1 year of active duty followed by 3 years of Reserves.

In 1970 Rob married Vickie Sherral (Miles) Fisher and together they have been blessed with four children and ten grandchildren. Like their father, Rob, all four children were raised around the Stockyards environment and two continue to work in full positions presently.

Rob has been at the Oklahoma National Stockyards starting as early as 9 years old where he could be seen following his grandfather around the yards, cleaning water troughs and other chores. In 1969, Rob and his dad, Bob started B&R Order Buying. In 1972, Rob partnered with his dad to purchase Farmers Livestock Commission Company located at the Oklahoma National Stockyards. They continued to operate both companies until Bob's death in 1994, at which time Rob became the sole owner of both companies.

From 1980-1986 Rob was President of the Livestock Exchange at the Oklahoma National Stockyards, which included all Commission firms located in the Exchange Building. In 1986, Rob was asked to serve as a Director of the National Stockyards Company. In 2000, Rob was asked to be President of the parent company "National Stockyards Company" which consists of, but not limited to, Oklahoma National Stockyards Company, the St. Louis National Stockyards Company, and the East St. Louis Junction Railroad.

During Rob's time as President, he also became the President of the Stockyards City Main Street Program and the President of the Oklahoma Livestock Marketing Association. Additionally, Rob was appointed as a director for UMB Banks and served on their Board for 8 years.
In 2008, Rob sold Farmers Commission Company to his son, Robert Joe Fisher III "Joey", who continues to operate the company today with his sister, Rebekah Fisher Ward, who manages the office.

Rob retired in December 2019. He continues, to this day, to be present every Monday at the Stockyards in an Order Buying capacity fulfilling the needs of his numerous customers.

As Rob has said many times, all the above accomplishments would not have been possible without the help and support of his family, all commission companies, order buyers, auctioneers, employees, and the administrative staff, and last but not least the Morris Family, where it all began!

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John C. "Jack" Hunter
Ardmore, SD

John C. "Jack" Hunter was born to John W. "Jack" Hunter and Mary Berquist on April 4, 1951. He was the 4th generation born on a ranch in the northwest corner of Fall River County, Ardmore, South Dakota. He was the only child of the couple. His father ranched and his mother taught school.

Jack's mother moved out from California after she and Jack's father met at Officer's Training Camp in Utah, shortly after World War II. To say that it was a culture shock for her was an understatement, but she loaded up on the train and moved out East. She was a graduate of the University of California Berkley and his father attended South Dakota School of the Mines & Technology until the war broke out. 

Jack started school in Oelrichs, South Dakota, where his mother taught. With the changing of her contracts so did his schooling, until they ended up in the Igloo school district at the Igloo Depot. He was an Igloo Rattlesnake until sadly the depot closed and his mother began teaching in the neighboring school of Edgemont, South Dakota.

At the beginning of his junior year of high school, he became an Edgemont Mogul. That same year, something else exciting happened to Jack. Laurel Erickson had moved to Edgemont. Her father Gene Erickson started up The Southern Hills Bank. So both being new students that year, I would imagine they became fast friends and started running around together.

In addition to ranching Jack's father, Jack, also was an area rodeo announcer. He traveled throughout the Midwest and was often disappointed in the sound equipment. So, he started his own sound company, Jack Hunter Sound. This enterprise grew to quite the operation. The younger Jack traveled on many of his dad's crews all across the middle of the country, he worked all summer either at the ranch or on the road until the end of his high school career.

After graduation, both Jack and Laurel attended South Dakota State University where they married in the winter of their sophomore year. Jack went on to graduate in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in Ranch Management. Following graduation, they both returned to the ranch to take over.

Jack and Laurel worked side by side at the ranch with cattle and ewes. They had three children, Kris, Ross and Alicia. Jack ranched and was very active in the local community of Edgemont, where he never knew a stranger and still doesn't. He was approached in 1980 by another young man, Doug Strotheide, who just had taken over management of the Crawford Livestock Auction to become a field representative. With Jack's knowledge of cattle and genuine demeanor he soon had many customers in the Southern Black Hills, taking their stock from Edgemont Livestock to the rival barn in Crawford.

Then in 1985, he was presented an opportunity to purchase the Edgemont Livestock Auction. He and Laurel took on the challenge without pause. In doing so, he was no longer a field representative for Crawford. He owned and operated the Edgemont barn for 4 years. Once again, Jack was approached by that same young man, Doug Strotheide, who was the manager but now was the owner of Crawford Livestock. He told Jack that he was taking all his business, so they may as well become partners. So it was to that, the two became business partners in the Edgemont & Crawford sale barns.

They successfully grew and ran both barns, when once again another opportunity presented itself. Gordon Livestock was being ran into a deficit. It went to a board of shareholders, who approached the Hunter & Strotheide duo to take that failing barn and turn it into a success. In 1992, Jack and Laurel moved themselves and their younger two children, Ross and Alicia, to Gordon. Kris had graduated high school and was attending college.

Shortly thereafter they made the decision to shut down the Edgemont barn. It was a small barn that had very small facilities.

Jack ran the Gordon country, tripling the head count that was being marketing at GLM. Shortly after he and Doug had the two barns up and running, they became reps for Western Video Market. This was a new dynamic riveting way to market cattle. Jack was never opposed to progress. He always wanted to make sure his customers were taken care of to the best of his ability. 

In the early 2000's they took on a third partner and with that partner they took on a small feedlot operation. This was a way Jack felt he could help market support the cattle that came through the barn. Jack felt that just because someone didn't have load lots, but had damn good cattle, they should bring the market as well. He always made sure they did.

In 2003, Jack and Laurel bought out both partners and solely ran GLM & CLM. They then sold Gordon Livestock to focus all their time on Crawford Livestock. This also afforded him the opportunity to be closer to the ranch, which his only son Ross took over. Ross and his family still run the family homestead and his children are the 6th generation.

Jack has been in the cattle marketing business for 43 years. In that time he has volunteered countless hours selling 4-H sales, labor auctions and helping the community in any way he can. There isn't a better cattleman out there. He knows cattle and what they are worth. He is honest to a fault, but can get away like no one else teasing his customers from the auction block.

Laurel worked by his side for 53 years. All three of his children are involved in the business in some way which is a testament to Jack's passion for the business. His oldest Kris works in the office in the fall and busy spring sales on Fridays, which is our sale day. His son Ross sells for us and followed in his dad's foot steps as a true cattleman himself. His youngest daughter, Alicia and her husband Rich, bought the barn from them and are continuing the path of TRUE PRICE DISCOVERY.

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Jackie Moore
Joplin, MO

Upon meeting Jackie Moore for the first time, you quickly learn he's not into nuance. At first introduction, he measures you up with the intense eye of a practiced appraiser - someone who's spent almost 3/4 of his life in the livestock auction business. His handshake telegraphs his confident nature. In his corner of the world, he moves like a heavyweight champ, exchanging greeting and flinging one-liners in all directions to a public that all seem to know him. He admits to having a short attention span, a trait he says serves him well in his chosen profession. He seems to operate at just one speed; flat out. 

Moore says he's a product of his up bringing, a small cow-calf operation his late father Claude Moore ran, and 45 years spent working in the operation he now co-owns with his sons and son-in-law.

The 64-year-old Moore got his start at the Joplin yards as a 13-year-old. He never wanted to do anything else. He eventually bought a commission at the Joplin yards, which at the time was a faint competitor to the hefty livestock trade going on near Springfield. 

Driving by the old Joplin yards one day, Moore says the idea came to him to buy the operation. That's how his inspirations usually come, he adds, by stewing on the multitude of informational bits he picks up in his non-stop contact with business associates, clients and contacts. In 1986, he partnered up with other family members to buy the old Joplin yards, which at the time marketed 90,000 head per year. The partners built the current JRS facility in Carthage in 1995, which is today the nation's largest cow-calf auction. Moore bought out the other family interests in 2017. Bailey, Skyler and Dustin Eldridge and their wives took ownership along with Jackie.

Today, the JRS operation is one big extended family. With sons Bailey and Skyler doing the auctioneering and order buying and Dustin Eldridge, brother-in-law, working on the financials. "I pretty much have always handled the customers," Moore says. "I'm just a cowman and people person, and I've known most of the people we do business with all my life."

"I'm the visionary, the idea man. I dream up the programs and it's the great partners and people I work with who figure out how to get them done," Moore says, "I spend zero time in the office, and don't carry a calculator or a computer. I rely on business cards, buyers' cards, a cell phone and my good memory."

About 40 full-time and 60 part-time employees, with an average time of service between 15 to 20 years, are employed at the Carthage facility. It features 10 acres under roof with pipe fences that can hold approximately 3,500 head, with feed and water pens. In addition, 51 outside traps with feed, water and shade have capacity for an additional 7,500 cattle. A total of 527,000 head of cattle in 2022, mostly 300-900# calves, for $549 million in volume, sell annually though JRS from a client base of 10,000 sellers. "He was young, hard-working," Joe Day longtime order buyer says with a chuckle as he recalls the frenetic energy Moore brought to the area with the 1986 purchase. "Jackie was out beating the bushes. He wasn't afraid to take chances, and he ran the wheels off his truck calling on people. The commission men in the old stockyards didn't know what hit them," Day adds.

"I don't know a single person involved in Missouri's cattle industry that reaches more people in a given year than Jackie Moore," said Mike John, past MCA and National Cattlemen's Beef Association president. "Thousands of cattle producers from Missouri and bordering states do business with him. He has had and continues to have a profound impact on the cattle industry throughout the state and the country."

Moore admits he sets a torrid pace. "My philosophy has always been to go faster than anyone else. My deal is if they're asleep, I'm awake and trying to get their customers," Moore says. He says his drive comes from growing up, on small farms in Stotts City, a little town not far from Carthage. "I know how important these cattle and the income from them is to these folks," Moore says. 

John contends that Moore is one of the most producer-oriented market managers he's ever known. "He honestly believes his mission is to keep small producers in business and to help them adapt to change," said John. "He invests and takes time to adapt and provides his customers with opportunities.

"Our job is to work as hard as we can for our customers to make them aware of industry trends and opportunities," Moore says. "We're not out to tell them how to run their operation. We want our customers to make all they can but it's up to them to participate. In most cases JRS doesn't make any more money, and I tell them that," Moore adds. "Because of that, I think the producer regards us as a more honest source of information."

Jackie always said: "As the population grows everyday the cow herd shrinks, but it's the best time in your life to be in the Cattle Business."

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Gerald Don "Beef" Palmer
Martin, SD

Gerald Don "Beef" Palmer was born September 27, 1934 in Martin, SD to Vernald and Charlotte Palmer. Over the years he gained the nickname of "Beef" and basically all his friends and colleagues would address him by this name rather than his given name.

During his school years he enjoyed playing football and his hobbies included hunting and fishing and helping his dad on the farm. After graduation he attended and completed Auctioneer School in Mason City, Iowa. He then went on to auction at various sale barns within his home and surrounding areas. 

On August 24, 1957 he married Carol Bettcher and they made their home on a farm East of Martin, SD where they ranched and raised 6 children (Tim, Patty, Susan, Sharla, Penny and Tracee). Of course over his life his family grew and he gained grandkids and great grandkids; all of whom he doted on and spoiled. He would ask them "want to go to the sale barn?" this is how he instilled all of the knowledge of cattle and livestock to his grandkids, by letting them tag along.

Over the years he ran Palmer Trucking where hauling cattle was the main endeavor, but his main occupation and joy was being a cattle order buyer, Buyer #5. From the minute he got up to when he went to bed he was on the phone talking to individuals about their wants and needs. In his early years he went to sales 6 days a week but as he got older he cut back to 5 days. He traveled to the South Dakota and Nebraska auction barns. From the Northern Hills area (St Onge, Belle Fourche, Sturgis) to the Nebraska area (Crawford, Rushville, Gordon) and local surrounding area (Burke and Martin Livestock). No matter the weather he was definitely committed to doing what he loved and traveled each day and stayed until the last cow sold.

The "first" time Beef set foot in a sale barn was the original Martin Livestock Auction in Martin, SD in 1953 at the age of 19. Although his order buyer occupation didn't start until 1958. The last time was in 2018 at the age of 84 which makes his career of being an order buyer an impressive, 60 years. 

As far as a cattle order buyer, you can ask anyone at the sale barn, he was a legacy. #5 was his buyer number and the amount of livestock bought under that number throughout his career was way too many to count. He could figure in his head quicker than you could run a calculator.

One testimonial from a client "Beef bought several thousand cows for me over about 18 years, I never could decide if he was a walking computer or a mathematical genius, I could ask him how many cows he had bought for me that day and he could tell me how many and what they weighed and what the average cost was. And he did it all from his mind. In all the years I knew him he never wrote anything down, although he would buy for several customers at a time, he knew exactly the figures for each of his purchasers." Another testimonial "There should be a cattle buyers hall of fame and the entrance  should be based on his dedication, Beef was 100% dedicated." 

Gerald "Beef" Palmer passed away January 17, 2019 at the age of 84. The day he was admitted into the hospital for his illness he was at the Martin Livestock weekly sale doing what he loved to do, buying cattle for his customers. His funeral service was held at the Martin Livestock Sale Ring, which seemed fitting as the Sale Ring and friends were as much a part of his life and family as his own was. The #5 buyer's number has since been retired at his circuit of sale barns in honor of his legacy of a cattle buyer. 

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John E. "Cowboy Jack" Steinmitz
Dodge City, KS

John E. "Cowboy Jack" Steinmitz was born in Hertha, KS to John E. and Anna Elizabeth (Torreyson) Steinmitz on October 21, 1920. At the age of 12 he began his career in the cattle industry. Jack started as a check-in boy after school at the Parsons auction market where he continued until 1945 when he moved to Kansas City. Jack began traveling the state with Walter Jarbo. Walter bought cows and bulls for a meat packing plant and some light cattle for himself or on order. Jack was attracted to Walter because he did "big business," Walter handled lots of cattle and that meant lots of money. Jack began buying killing cows and bulls for Walter and trading an occasional load of calves for himself.

Jack was convinced early in life that the auction market was the best way to sell cattle. Large numbers of cattle sorted into uniform bunches, and offered to many different buyers which would ensure the highest possible prices. Two of the auction markets he found most intriguing were those of Amarillo, Texas and Dodge City, Kansas. He chose Dodge City because that was as far as his ride would take him. Jack bought his first car after starting to work at McKinley-Winter. A $100 bill and a personal check for $1,400 put Jack behind the wheel of a 1947 two door Chevy Deluxe. Not a Lincoln he later became accustom to, but, that Chevy allowed him to see lots of cattle that first year.

While on a return trip from La Junta, Colorado, Ted McKinley and Jack Steinmitz strike a deal that will have a major influence on the livestock industry in the midwest for the next 40 plus years. For the sum of $100 per week, Jack was hired as sales manager for McKinley-Winter Livestock Commission Co., Dodge City, Kansas. By today's standards, $5,200 a year may not sound very appealing, but in 1947 things were different. You could by a three-bedroom home for under $7,000, a new Ford for $1,000, gas for that car at $0.23 a gallon and the average income was $3,031 a year. Since that day in 1947, Jack, soon known as "Cowboy Jack" oversaw the marketing of 11 1/2 million cattle which represents over $2.5 billion in gross sales. Not bad for a young man that started as a dock boy in a small southeast Kansas auction in 1932.

Throughout Cowboy Jack's tenure Winter Livestock grew to be the largest independent cattle auction in America. By his example of hard work and dedication to true market discovery he led his team from selling an average of 175,000 cattle per year (1946-1955) to over 342,000 per year (1976-1985) and in 1986 sold 374,321 head of cattle. That takes teamwork, men and women working together following Jack's lead, putting the customer first and working hard to see that the customer and his cattle are taken care of.

However, most people knew Jack from his popular KGNO-AM daily 7:30 morning radio show, "Cowboy Jack's Market News and Views." Even after he retired, he wrote "Cowboy Jack Sez" for the regional High Plains Journal agricultural newspaper. When Jack's report came on the radio, the morning bustle across the listening area stopped and everyone paused to hear what Cowboy Jack had to say. He was an integral part of morning routines for decades.

Jack was a member of the Kansas Livestock Association and, in the 1950's, was a strong advocate in the effort to have the National Cowboy Hall of Fame located in Dodge City. Cowboy Jack was truly an ambassador for Dodge City and the cattle industry. He served as a member of the "Marshal's Posse" which rode in President John F. Kennedy's inaugural parade in 1961. In the early 1970's Jack was named Honorary Marshal of Dodge City. Jack was known for his kindness and contributions to the community. Neighborhood kids knew him as Santa Claus and he bought coats and shoes for children in need.

In 1943, he married Virginia Marie Graham of Parsons, Kansas. They had two children, John Steinmitz, Los Angeles and Lana Ross, Dodge City. He was also the proud grandfather of two, Tyler Ross and Sara Ross Kimbrel.

John E. "Cowboy Jack" Steinmitz died on June 6, 1999 in Dodge City, Kansas.

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Robert "Bob" Rodenberger
Oklahoma City, OK

Robert "Bob" Rodenberger was born January 20th, 1958 to Robert Sr. and Tommie Lou Rodenberger in Paris, Texas. He was raised on a small farm in Antlers, Oklahoma and graduated from Antlers High School in 1976. Bob attended Oklahoma State University and obtained a Bachelors Degree in Agriculture Economics in 1982.

Bob began working for Cooper Livestock at the Oklahoma National Stockyards in 1983, which was the first step in a lasting career in the cattle industry. Not only did Bob begin a cow-calf operation, he also started grazing his own stockers cattle and placing cattle in feed yards. He then became a partner in Cooper the following year and worked with them until 1988, at which time he began buying and selling cattle for Sparks Cattle Company at the Oklahoma National Stockyards where he continued to buy and sell cattle.

In 1991, Bob was presented the opportunity by Tom Gilliam and Bill Griffeth to lease Stockman Oklahoma Commission Company at the Oklahoma Stockyards and Apache Auction Market in Apache, Oklahoma. While managing and growing both of these organizations, Bob cultivated long lasting relationships not only with his shipping customers, but his order buying customers as well. Major feed yards such as Cactus, Caprock, Friona and JBS have been the recipients of thousands of cattle over the years purchased by Bob. His longtime friendship with Robert Nichols of Nichols Cattle Company also allowed him to assist customers and buyers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.

As the industry began to change and additional options were introduced to market cattle, Bob realized a need for his customers to reach a larger buying audience and thus formed Apache Video in 2004. This video auction was held in addition to the traditional weekly market in Apache. Utilizing his extensive contacts, Bob was able to assist customers and put additional dollars in their pockets while moving quality cattle to a wider audience. Two years later, he and his partners formed Apache Order Buying to assist in streamlining the buying operations between Oklahoma City, Apache and other states, making them a one-stop shop in handling cattle marketing needs.

In 2015, Bob was sought out to facilitate a cattle auction partnership in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, located in the United States but on the border of Mexico. Bob's expertise in running a successful auction facility, along with providing excellent service to customers, would prove valuable to the success of the market and provide a way for cattle producers to obtain true value for their cattle. The auction, which officially opened in January 2017, only sold cattle from Mexico and provided a more competitive market versus selling cattle to 'border brokers' at a pre-arranged price. Located 25 yards from the import/export USDA inspection station, the auction facilities were owned by the Chihuahua Cattleman's Association and drew buyers from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, California and Nebraska. Even though Bob ended his partnership with Santa Teresa in the spring of 2020, his vision and industry contacts helped provide a breakthrough in the cattle import market.

Bob has previously served as the Southwest Director of Oklahoma Livestock Marketing Association, and he is proud to have raised his kids and provided for his family in the cattle industry. 

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Jim Santomaso
Sterling Livestock Commission Co

Jim Santomaso started working for Bud Van Berg at Sterling Livestock Commission Co. in 1971. He taught himself to auctioneer by listening to Bud Van Berg, Damon Koch and Wayne Kruse as well as many others. He was working full time at the auction and would come in at night for extra practice time behind the microphone in the auction ring.

Jim worked outside unloading trailers and sorting cattle and eventually worked his way up to lead auctioneer. Jim also worked the country visiting with customers and learning how to market their cattle in the best way possible.

In 1973 he married Becky Van Berg. In 1974 their daughter Jenny was born. In 1977 their son Jason was born. Both children grew up in the livestock market learning the family business from their dad.

Jim has served on numerous committees for the Livestock Marketing Association. Jim also served as the President of the Livestock Marketing Association form 2007-2008.

Jim served on the Colorado Beef Council for 2 terms and is presently serving on the Colorado Cattlemen's Association Board. 

Jim was the livestock manager for the Logan County Fair board from 2011-2016.

Jim is tirelessly looking at market trends and new ideas to continue improving his auctions' ability to market cattle at the highest level. 

Jim has recently been named the Elk's Distinguished Citizen of the Year for his outstanding service to everyone in his community. If someone needs help, he is the first one to step up and lend a helping hand.

Jim continues to help many auction owners with questions they have about the livestock marketing business.

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Colonel Ralph Wade
Sulphur, Oklahoma

Ralph was born in a small farming community in Callaway County Missouri. Growing up around cattle and farming at a young age he grew a love for livestock. He attended school in New Bloomfield, a small country school with only 15 in his class. At the young age of 12 he realized he had a God given talent for the "gift of gab" which translated to an auctioneer chant. In those days, Lions Clubs and churches had mutton barbeques to raise money. After the bbq feed there was always plenty of mutton left over, it became known that Ralph was the one for the job of auctioning it off. They would feed him and he would auction. Next came the square dance clubs, they all found out that Ralph had picked up a rhythm that worked with calling square dancers.

Upon graduating from high school Ralph hauled hay for 2 cents a bale. He saved money to go to auctioneer school. That fall he boarded a Greyhound bus. On his first trip out of Missouri he landed in Mason City, Iowa. His first taste of success was when he was selected to sell first at the graduation auction of 227 students at the school.

Upon returning home to Missouri, he began selling at any type of auction he could get. Then, in 1965, a big break came his way. Ed Bruckner, the first World Champion Livestock Auctioneer, called and asked him to come work at Central Missouri Livestock Auction. The first three years found Ralph working the ring, sorting and cleaning pens. He finally got his big break and got behind the mic and became second behind Eddie. He also ran the radio and country soliciting.

In 1971 Ralph got his first taste of real competition when CMLA sent him to the World Championship in Seely, Texas. Finishing second behind Ronnie Woodward was no defeat.

In 1974 a phone call from Ray Winter landed him in Colorado where he went freelance and sold at four markets a week. He journeyed to Spokane Washington to the World's Fair to compete in the WLAC where Ralph found success in winning the coveted title of World Champion Auctioneer. In 1995, competing in the International Championship in Calgary Canada, again found success at the top.

Ralph's career was well underway selling purebred cattle, livestock auction markets, exotic animals, a turn at promotion auctions for Tri-Star Pictures and a highlight, when he auctioned off Central Missouri Livestock Market, where he got his start. Also, as the founder of North American Cattle Co., Ralph was flying his own Bonanza all over the country buying and selling cattle, trading cattle on the Mexican border and ranching and feeding cattle. All of this was highlighted by the Ralphie doll in his image designed by wife Karen.

Without a doubt, one of the most rewarding aspects of his auctioneering career was when Jim Odle called and asked Ralph to become a part of Superior Livestock auction in 1987. He still presides over 50+ auctions for them each year helping market over 1.5 million cattle each year.

In 1990, George Hall of Oklahoma Stockyards gave Ralph a call and asked him to become the lead auctioneer for them where Ralph helped market cattle for 17 years.

"There are many other journeys along the way, some successful, some not so much, to a career spanning over 65 years and still counting. The most rewarding of all is the opportunity to work with other auctioneers and helping them reach their success and giving back from what the Lord has blessed me with.

My talent for life is not about the journey but the DESTINATION!" - Col. Ralph Wade

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Raymond Mark Winter
Winter Livestock

Raymond Mark Winter was born on January 7th, 1934, into a cattle ranching family. Ray was the third generation of Winters to live on the homestead in Kalvesta Kansas. Karl Mark Winter and Gladys Brown Winter had three boys; Ross, Ralph and Raymond, who was the youngest. In 1936, due to his mother Gladys’ failing health, the Winters moved to Dodge City Kansas. Karl purchased the livestock auction facilities, and leased the adjoining Santa Fe Rail Company stockyards, which was the beginning of the Winter Livestock Commission Company. In 1939 Ray’s mother Gladys passed away. Three years later his father married Grace Bayless and in 1946 Ray’s younger sister Phyllis was born.

In middle school and high school, Ray spent his summers working at the Winter Ranch in Kalvesta. He spent long hours bucking hay, fixing fences, and farming in the cab-less Ford 8N tractor. After a long day at the ranch, Grace would wait for him to get home and cook him a big steak, reminding him that hard work pays off. While attending high school at Dodge City High School he excelled in both football and basketball. He later earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Denver in Business Administration.

In 1957, Ray volunteered for active duty in the U.S. Navy where he was hand selected for Officer Training School in Pensacola Florida and trained as a Naval Pilot. After his naval service he came home to manage Winter Livestock in La Junta Colorado. In 1960, Ray met the love of his life, Sue Frizzell, from Larned Kansas. Within three weeks he knew she was the one and asked for her hand in marriage, a marriage that would last 51 strong years until his passing. Sue and Ray were blessed with 6 children (Weston, Renee, Brian, Mark, Keith and Kristin).

A cattleman to its truest form, Raymond lived in La Junta, CO where he learned the ropes and managed the sale barn for 23 years, until his father’s death, in 1981. He then moved to Dodge City, KS, leaving La Junta Livestock in the trusted hands of Jerry Keffeler and John Campbell. Back in Kansas he continued to grow and manage Winter Livestock into the largest independent cattle auction in America partnering with his brother Ross, who managed Winter Feed Yard. His did this while also raising the next generation of cattlemen in the family. In the early 1990s, looking to the future, he delegated the Dodge City location to his oldest son Weston, and planned the construction of a new barn in Enid Oklahoma, where his home would be for the remainder of his life. Building this new barn was a way to keep serving cattlemen through expansion. In 1992 Ray called his next two oldest boys, Brian and Mark, home from college to start construction. In partnership with his sons, Raymond oversaw the growth of Winter Livestock to include operations in Dodge City, KS; La Junta, CO; Enid, OK; Riverton, WY; Pratt, KS and the creation of CattleUSA video and broadcasting. During Ray’s fifty-five-year career, Winter Livestock marketed 27,211,033 head of cattle for local cattlemen.

Raymond lived by his saying, passed on to him by his father Karl, “Be honest and honorable.” This is how he conducted his personal life and business. Ray knew the importance of hard work and attention to detail; he brought this expectation into every aspect of his life and to those around him. His children remember working days on end straightening nails that came from the old wooden pens to be reused again around the sale barn or cleaning off bricks to be recycled in the next construction project. When computers started to become a part of modern office usage, Raymond attended night school at La Junta Junior College to have a full understanding of them and put this new technology to the best possible use.

On June 30th, 2012, Raymond Winter passed away, having lived a life devoted to his faith, family and business. Through partnerships with his father, brother and children Raymond was able to build, expand and pass on Winter Livestock as an auction house founded on honest and honorable dealings. Through the example Ray set for his children and grandchildren Winter Livestock proudly upholds these standards today.

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Tom Frey
Centennial Livestock Auction

Tom grew up in Eastern Nebraska and started his auction and auctioneer profession in the ring and alleys of the Columbus Sales Pavilion in Columbus, Nebraska. He spent nearly 20 years at Centennial Livestock Auction in Fort Collins, Colorado, prior to purchasing Creston Livestock Auction, Inc., in 1999. After successfully operating the Creston market for 20 years, Tom and Leisa sold the market and moved back to their beloved Colorado roots in 2019. Since, Tom has returned to work at Centennial Livestock Auction.

Tom is a past president of the Iowa Livestock Auction Markets Association, 2010 International Livestock Auctioneer Champion, 2009 Reserve World Champion Auctioneer, 2009 Greater Midwest Champion Livestock Auctioneer and several-time Top Ten World Livestock Auctioneer.

Tom and his wife, Leisa, are blessed with seven children and four grandchildren, Reegan and Coltyr Wayne, Tate Thomas and Noelle Jayne. The Frey family also runs a 100 head, cow/calf operation. In his spare time, Tom enjoys spending time with family, hunting, fishing and keeping up with all the family activities.

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Michael T Samples
Farmers & Ranchers Livestock

Mike Samples was born November 21, 1949 in Ontario, Oregon. His parents Jay and Ruth Samples with sister Brenda moved to Southeast Kansas shortly after Mike was born. Mike’s father bought an eighty-acre farm North of Erie, Kansas and that’s where Mike was raised. Jay worked in the oilfield and farmed until he ventured into building a Drive Inn Café called the B&M, named after his children.

When Mike entered high school at Erie his life made an abrupt change when he met his Vo-Ag teacher Ken Buntin. Mr. Buntin told him he had to have projects therefore, Mike then started farming, raising hogs and cattle. His involvement in FFA lead him to become Star Farmer of Kansas in 1967 and a State Officer in 1967-1968. Mr. Buntin was very instrumental in shaping Mike’s life and future direction.

While in high school a friend Tim Peak’s dad had a commission firm at the Parsons Stockyard Mike was fascinated with the commotion of a sale barn and went to the sale every chance he had. This lit a desire in Mike to become part of the Auction World. During that time, he started driving and traveling with famous cattleman E.J. Peck and learned many things about the cattle industry.

In his younger years he worked for the Fredonia, Kansas market then later ran the Chanute Sale Barn for a short while before becoming the manager of the Parsons Livestock Market for Russell and Mark McKee. Mike ran the market and also had orders to buy cattle at 3 to 4 sales each week.

August 31, 1987 Mike made a big change leaving Erie, Kansas and moving to Salina to manage Farmers & Ranchers Livestock. He quickly found the once large market had several problems and not many customers. With the help of several great people the market started a turn around. Under Mike’s watchful eye Farmer & Ranchers Livestock has become the largest market in Kansas for several years running, selling more than 200,000 head per year along with hogs and 2 large horse sales per year.

Mike has lived the last 30 plus years in the Abilene area with his wife Donna. He has 3 children Monae living in Erie, Marshall in Abilene and Micah also in Abilene, he also has 4 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Micah has joined Mike working at the market as a penner for several years now.

Mike has not yet considered retirement because of his passion for the market and his love for his producers and buyers. Mike still enjoys the people and the atmosphere of a cattle auction.

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Karl Mark Winter
Winter Livestock

Late in the year of 1887 Henry Winter left his Iowa home in search of land. He brought his springboard wagon to rest by Pawnee Creek in Finney County, Kansas where he built a sod home on what was soon to be known as the Winter Ranch. He filed his claim January 18, 1888 and immediately sent for his wife Kate and three children to join him at their new home.

April 21, 1889 a fourth child, Karl Mark Winter was born to Henry and Kate. As a youngster Karl saw the great herds of cattle trailed in from the south. Some were driven across the eastern corner of the Winter Ranch to water at the Pawnee Creek. It was a great source of entertainment for young Winter and his brothers to ride alongside the drovers and marvel at the herds. One of those was said to be 10,000 head of cattle on their way up the Chisholm Trail.

Karl farmed and ranched alongside his father until the age of 21, when he took over the ranch. In Karl’s capable hands the ranch increased in size many times over. The brown-eyed neighbor girl who won young Karl Winter’s heart was Gladys Brown, whose parents had come from Cherokee County, Kansas. After marrying in 1914, Gladys and Karl ranched on his home place. They were the parents of three sons: Ralph, Ross and Ray. In 1936, Karl and his family moved to Dodge City because of Gladys’ failing health. That year, Karl purchased the livestock auction facilities in Dodge City from J.C. Renner and leased the adjoining Santa Fe stockyards used in the heyday of the cattle drives. Gladys’ illness brought about her death in 1939. In 1942 Karl married Grace Bayless. Together they made a home for his sons and their daughter, Phyllis.

Winter Livestock Commission Company was the name of Karl’s new enterprise and some 29,886 head were sold in the first year of operation. In the years to come Karl sold half interest to Ted McKinley and together they kept the business growing at a steady pace. Winter Livestock Inc. acquired the La Junta, Colorado sale facility in 1940 in an effort to further serve the farmer, rancher and cattleman. Later Ted McKinley sold his share of the partnership back to Karl. 

After World War II Karl was known in the community as a trusted mentor. He partnered on cattle and other business endeavors that traditional banking means would not support.  The family has been blessed with many stories from community leaders and citizens that it was Karl’s belief in them and his willingness to give them a loan that got them started.

 In 1956 Karl and Ross Winter built Winter Feed Yard in Dodge City Kansas in effort to meet the growing needs of the cattle industry.

Karl passed in 1982 leaving his legacy in the capable hands of his sons Ray and Ross. Today the family is still ranching the same land in Finney County and has remained dedicated to the cattle industry through the commitment of 3rd, 4th and 5th generation family members.

Karl had a reputation of fairness to both the buyers and sellers. “When you’ve dealt with a man’s grandfather, his father and now him, it makes for a lot of trust.” It’s that kind of trust that the Winter Family will continue into the future.

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Patrick K Goggins

Billings, Montana

Pat Goggins was born in Orland, California, in 1930. His family had roots in Montana, and they returned to Montana when Pat was still a toddler. Primarily a dairy farmer, Pat's father eked out a living during the Depression as a sharecropper. The family's income in 1936 totaled $97.

Too young to serve in World War II, Pat helped his family grow crops to feed the soldiers. Farming helped Pat develop habits of hard work and thriftiness. His first livestock achievements came in August 1947 when his 4-H Hereford steer walked away with Championship honors at the 1947 National Hereford Show.

Pat married Florence (Babe) Becker, the girl of his dreams, in 1951. In 1952, he graduated from Montana State University with a degree in animal husbandry and went to work as herdsman for two Hereford operations: Archie Parkes Hereford Ranch in Vaughn, Montana and the DeReimer-Atchison Hereford Ranch, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In 1954, Pat went to work for the "Montana Farmer Stockman" and then for the "Western Livestock Journal". But it was the job with the "Western Livestock Reporter", a newspaper in Billings, that provided the catalyst to the changes in his life that would take place in rapid-fire succession. In between driving a massive amount of miles in a "Volkswagen" Bug, Pat started sharing his opinions, comments and advice with the readers by way of a weekly column called "As I See It."

In 1961, Pat bought the "Western Livestock Reporter" from Norman Warsinske. Under his direction, the paper increased its readership from 10 northwestern states to virtually every state in the union. In 1968, Pat started another ag weekly called "Agri News".

Pat taught himself to be an auctioneer, practicing the chant by selling telephone poles as he drove down the highways. In 1968, Pat bought the 28 year old stockyards on Minnesota Avenue in Billings, Montana, and renamed it PAYS which stands for Public Auction Yards. In 1976, PAYS held the world's first livestock video cattle auction. He later founded Northern Livestock Video Auction.

In 1961, Pat bought his first ranch, the Vermilion Ranch located east of Billings where he and Babe have raised three generations of children and Angus cattle. Under his direction, Vermilion became a registered Angus operation of renown.

In the mid 1960's, Pat was instrumental in forming the Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) and was honored to be elected its first president in 1967. He was a board member for almost 15 years and still holds the number one membership card.

In 1983 Pat bought a second stockyards, the Billings Livestock Commission Co. With PAYS, those two markets made Billings, Montana the largest auction market town in the Northwest, and in the United States, second only to Amarillo, TX.  Pat added a third auction market when he purchased Western Livestock Auction in Great Falls, MT.

Pat's newspapers have received separate national recognition for news coverage, and among his numerous personal recognitions are awards for Marketeer of the Year in 1977, Auctioneer of the Year from the National Auctioneers Association, U.S. Man of the Year in Livestock in 1992 and Montana Family Business of the Year in 1996. In 1998, he was made a member of the National Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame.

Many men and women have made a mark on their local ag industry, and quite a few on their state ag industry, but the field narrows when we're talking about people who have made significant contributions to the ag industry on a nationwide basis. Patrick K. Goggins is one such man.

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Mike Lewis 

Pratt, Kansas

You’ll find Mike Lewis most days at Pratt Livestock. Thursdays start with an early breakfast discussing the market with customers.  He’s right at home at the cattle auction; buyers and sellers make a point to see Mike and hear his thoughts on the market.  Mike grew up on a cattle ranch in Kinsley, Kansas. He started working at Kinsley Livestock, his father’s auction, when he was only nine years old.  He continued working the auction through his senior year of high school.  Mike went to college intending to be a journalist, but after the first year, he knew his heart was in the cattle business.  Mike married his high school sweetheart, Ruth, and they moved to Pratt, Kansas to work at Pratt Livestock.  Soon after, Mike and Ruth were blessed with three children, daughters, Shawna and Michelle and son, Michael (Jake).

In 1960 Pratt Livestock absorbed the Lyons, KS sale and the Kinsley, KS sale.  Pratt Livestock began to grow under Mike’s leadership and in 1962 a new facility was built two and a half miles east of Pratt, at Pratt Livestock’s present location.  In 1979 Mike along with partner, Bob Wilkey, leased the auction from the Wilkey family.  Eight years later, in 1987, the auction was purchased by Mike and Bob. 

Over the years, the customer base steadily grew.  In the spring of 1988 Pratt Livestock sold 12,633 head at a single sale, starting at 8:00 am and completing at midnight.  1988 was a banner year for the auction with a year-end total of 300,300 head sold.  Pratt Livestock has continually sold 160,000 -280,000 cattle per year, making it one of a hand full of markets the industry follows to set the price of cattle each week. 

Mike has never considered his work a job. He loves what he does and has always valued the people and the friendship’s they have made.  Cattle producers and cattle buyers, he feels, are some of the finest people in the world.  A handshake still means something in the cattle industry.  Through the years, he has had the pleasure of working with top notch employees as well as first, second, and third generation customers.

Pratt Livestock has always been a family affair.  Mike credits wife, Ruth, who has worked tirelessly by his side, and son, Jake, whose long hours and devotion get things right.  Mike’s late brother, Van Lewis of Dodge City, was often the highest volume order buyer at Pratt Livestock and was well known in the industry as a premier order buyer.

The producers that sell at Pratt Livestock have been Mike's focus for almost 60 years.  Mike Lewis represents a true Cattlemen; he knows cattle, knows the market, is honest in his dealings, and loves what he does.

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Tom Gilliam

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

As a young boy growing up in Cyril, Oklahoma, Tom knew he was going to be involved in agriculture, but he would go well beyond involvement so the industry he loved, would remain viable for future generations.  Tom’s involvement in agriculture, began by showing livestock in high school through the FFA.  Much of what Tom learned was self-taught and acquired through hard work and hands on experience.

Tom attended Oklahoma State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1958.  Upon graduation, he moved to Illinois with his wife Reta for a two-year career in the swine industry.  In October of 1959, he moved to Oklahoma City with a job selling hogs for a commission company at the Oklahoma National Stockyards.  But cattle remained his first love, so five years later, with some solid experience under his belt, he began selling cattle, also at the Oklahoma National Stockyards.

In the early years of his career, Tom said the Lord blessed him by opening many doors and one of those doors opened in the 1970’s, when he met Bill Griffeth and joined a partnership.  Together they started a Cattle Order Buying company.  Their business flourished and in 1987, they expanded with the acquisition of Stockman Oklahoma Commission Company, followed by the purchase of the Apache Auction Market in Apache, Oklahoma.

Tom and his partner Bill were fortunate to have worked with Accountant and Office Manager, George Privett who successfully ran the front office operations for more than 40 years.  Along with George’s loyalty to the business, Tom also says loyal customers were a vital part of their success.

In 1991, Governor David Walters appointed Tom to serve on the Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture.  He successfully held the position as board member for ten years.  In 1994, Tom received the Graduate of Distinction Award in Animal Science at Oklahoma State University.  Today, Stockman Oklahoma Commission Company and the Apache Auction Market are leased to Bob Rodenberger and to Bill Griffeth’s son, Greg Griffeth as they are carrying on the livestock market torch into the next generation.

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Bill Griffeth

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

William A. (Bill) Griffeth was born in Cushing, Okla. in 1940. Bill was raised on his family dairy farm, the Griffeth Dairy, where he developed his initial passion for the agricultural industry. As a young person, he channeled this passion for agriculture into being a 4-H and FFA member, where he realized that the long hours of milking cows, and taking care of other family livestock—including beef cattle, hogs, and chickens—would pay off, specifically on the Cushing FFA livestock judging team.

Griffeth enrolled at Oklahoma State University in 1958, where he majored in Animal Science. While at OSU, Griffeth was a member of the 1961 champion livestock judging team, which won the International Livestock Judging Contest in Chicago.

In 1962, upon graduating from OSU, Griffeth reached a pivotal point in life—earning his first job. Griffeth was hired by Wilson Packing Company as a hog buyer, where he coupled his knowledge of sound livestock, learned at home, with this new endeavor, where he learned the industry side of livestock marketing, to reach the conclusion that livestock marketing was the career path for him. He then took another key step: moving to the Oklahoma National Stockyards, where he met his wife of 56 years, Karen. He also met another very important person, Tom Gilliam, who has grown to play a major role in Griffeth’s business endeavors.

In 1970, Gilliam and Griffeth started an order buying business. Gilliam and Griffeth cultivated this business, until 1987, when they expanded to purchasing Stockman Livestock Marketing and Order Buying and Stockman Livestock Commission Company. The two made another leap of faith in 1988, and, with the help of Karen and Gilliam’s wife Reta, purchased the market at Apache, Okla.

Today, Griffeth and Gilliam can reflect on several successful business ventures, which have withstood the test of time. Griffeth’s son, Greg, even followed in his father’s footsteps as a cattle marketer, first as an auctioneer at the Oklahoma National Stockyards, and then growing into a major role in Stockman-Oklahoma Livestock Marketing. Greg also, alongside Bob Rodenberger, manages the Apache market, which is still a thriving and competitive market.

Griffeth has built a life which has brought many new endeavors, memories, and learning experiences. Through it all, he has been supported by Karen and their three children, Kim, Greg, and Shelley, as well as his six grandchildren. Each is enormously proud of their husband, father, or grandfather and the legacy he has left for them. They truly believe that he embodies the purest forms of leadership and hard-work.

If Griffeth could do it over again, he wouldn’t change a thing. It has been a wonderful life working in the auction market business, while serving rural American. Griffeth is beyond honored to be receiving this award amongst these other outstanding individuals.

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