Hereford Hall of Fame, Merit Inductees Honored
Hereford breeders Lilla Bell, Jackie Davis, the Douthit family and Gene Wiese were inducted into the American Hereford Association (AHA) Hall of Fame on Nov. 3 during the AHA Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Mo. Also during the meeting former Hereford executives, H.H. “Hop” Dickenson and T.D. “Dusty” Rich were inducted into the Hall of Merit.
The Hall of Fame honor annually recognizes breeders who’ve dynamically influenced the direction and advancement of the Hereford breed. Hall of Merit inductees aren’t necessarily Hereford breeders but have, in their own ways, greatly influenced the Hereford breed and cattle industry.
Lilla Bell, Paradise Valley, Nev., was raised on a commercial Hereford ranch in California. She grew up showing Hereford cattle in 4-H and during college. She attended California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obsipo. She graduated in 1960 and was the first woman to graduate from Cal Poly’s animal science program. She was also the first woman on a champion collegiate judging team.
The same year, she married Woodie Bell, whom she had met in college, and they moved to Fallon, Nev., where they raised three sons: Dean, John and Dan.
They rejuvenated Lilla’s interest in the Hereford breed in 1973, when their sons joined 4-H and started breeding heifers to show. In 1976 Bell Ranch joined the American Polled Hereford Association (APHA).
In 1979 the family moved to Paradise Valley and increased their registered herd to raise bulls for commercial breeders. Ever since, the family has been breeding registered Hereford cattle with goals for high fertility and calving ease with as much milk and growth as the ranch’s extreme desert environment can support. They select heavily for good udders, pigment and structural soundness. With some of their land and customers’ land being leased Forest Service and mountainous Bureau of Land Management ground, bulls must learn to travel and get the job done in rough country. Today the Bell Ranch herd totals 110 registered females.
Lilla Bell served on the APHA Board of Directors, representing the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah, from 1992 to 1995 and was chairman of the board in 1995. She was the first and only woman to serve as APHA chairman.
Lilla also served as a director of the California/Nevada Polled Hereford Association.
All three of her sons are now married, blessing Lilla and Woodie with seven grandchildren.
Jackie Davis, Lincoln, Calif., has spent his life in the polled Hereford industry and has dedicated much of it to serving the breed.
He began raising and showing Hereford cattle in 1952, when he was in high school, and has worked for several Hereford and commercial operations over the years including Vanderhoof Polled Herefords in Woodlake, Calif.; Triangle T Ranch, Chowchilla, Calif.; and Antonio Mountain Ranch, Lincoln, Calif.
In 1979 he started his own business, Davis Cattle Services, where he consulted on breeding programs, primarily polled Hereford operations, and bred and pregnancy checked cattle of all types.
Then he went to work for one of his clients, Napa Valley Polled Herefords, as manager.
Davis has also dedicated many years to serving the breed. From 1972-1985, he was a director for the California/Nevada Polled Hereford Association and was president for that association in 1975, 1978 and again from 1998-2009. He was elected to the American Polled Hereford Association Board in 1985 and was chairman from 1990-1991.
Today, he and his wife, Chris, live in Lincoln, Calif., where they continue to raise Herefords. They share their love of the breed with their children — Cindy, Stephanie and Craig — five grandchildren and one great-grandson.
The Douthit Family
The Douthit Family, St. Francis, Kan., has been raising registered Herefords since 1935 and has exhibited cattle in the Denver Yards for 69 years.
It all began with brothers Jim and Thad Douthit, who bought Hereford cattle. Then, Jim and his wife, Helen, raised their sons — Walter, Roger and Steve — in the business. The operation’s goal was always to produce seedstock for commercial cattlemen.
The family has participated in the National Hereford Feedout for decades, always striving to produce better cattle. The Douthit family was honored with the Kansas Hereford Association Breeder of the Year award in 1986 and 2004. Several times the farm has been a stop on the Kansas Hereford Association tour.
In 2008 the brothers dissolved their partnership and split the operation into three entities: Douthit Herefords, Roger Douthit Farms Inc., and 4V Ranch Douthit Herefords.
Walter, along with his daughter Megan Downey and her husband, Chuck and son, Carter, operates Douthit Herefords. The rest of the family — Walter’s other daughter Teresa and her son Grant, along with Walter’s son Chad, wife, Tanya, and their son, Oliver -- helps out when they can, although they don’t live in St. Francis. All are active in community and church organizations.
Megan says that her family’s passion for Hereford cattle and loyalty to the breed has helped them be successful. Every year they strive to produce real cattle for the real world. They produce registered bulls and purebred Hereford females as well as black baldie replacements for commercial cattlemen.
Roger Douthit Farms Inc. is a commercial operation. Using a three-breed rotation of Hereford, Angus and Red Angus bulls on Hereford cows, they strive to keep an F-1 momma cow. Heifer calves that aren’t retained in the herd are primarily marketed as replacements while steers are sold as feeders, this year through Superior Livestock.
The operation includes Roger and his wife, Myra, and their son, Jared and his wife, Candi, along with their daughter Olivia. Roger’s son Jason and his wife, Teresa, and their children, Jacob and Isabella, live in Kansas City but enjoy helping out on the farm when they visit.
Jared has served on the Kansas Hereford Association Board of Directors. He says that although the brothers are no longer in partnership, Herefords have been such a big part of all their lives for so long that it’s hard to separate the three’s accomplishments as individual breeders.
Steve and his wife, Melva, and their children — Ana Enfield and husband, Tyler, and their son, Zarik; Erica Gattshall and her husband, Matt, and their children Quade and Cadence; Margo; Courtney; and Thomas — make up 4V Ranch Douthit Herefords. Steve has served as president and is a board member of the Kansas Hereford Association. He is currently on the selection committee for the AHA Board. The whole family is active in church and community organizations. They produce Hereford bulls and females for commercial cattlemen.
Steve’s children say it’s a family-oriented business. Together, they’ve worked through tough times and appreciated the good times. They couldn’t have made it this long without having good cattle.
Fellow Kansas Hereford breeder Dean Davis commented that the Douthit commitment to Herefords can be proven by the fact that the Douthit breeding program has sired more than half a million Hereford calves.
Gene Wiese, Manning, Iowa, represents the third generation of Hereford cattlemen and farmers on the gently rolling hills of west-central Iowa. Since 1912 the Wiese family has been building and sustaining a reputation for top-quality, efficient and profitable beef cattle.
Nowadays, Wiese is joined by his wife, Jean; their son and daughter-in-law, David and Diana, and the Wieses’ daughter Helen working on the farm. Also, David and Diana’s three boys — Chance, Shayne and Trey — represent the fifth generation of Wieses in the Hereford and farming operations. Another daughter, Kathryn, and her son, Kieran, live in Hawaii.
Wiese & Sons, as it is called and has been for generations, offers commercial cattlemen Hereford and Angus bulls. The headquarters operation includes 350 registered cows, but generally 175 yearling and 2-year-old bulls are sold each year by private treaty, thanks, in part, to additional cooperator herds. Wiese & Sons is a progressive herd with extensive use of artificial insemination (AI), embryo transfer and ultrasound, and in-depth records are kept.
A 1951 animal science graduate of Iowa State University (ISU), Wiese was an American Hereford Association director from 1966-1972, serving as president in 1970-1971. He has also served as director and president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Hereford Association.
Very conservation minded, Wiese believes in making an effort to improve the land for the next generation. He was honored in 1996 with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Region III Environmental Stewardship Award for his commitment.
H.H. “Hop” Dickenson
H.H. “Hop” Dickenson, Overland Park, Kan., was inducted into the Hereford Hall of Merit. Hop Dickenson spent a lifetime dedicated to serving the Hereford breed. He worked for the Hereford association in various roles for 38 years, 24 as chief executive officer.
Dickenson began working for the Association in the 1950s, first as fieldman and then as secretary for state Hereford associations in the Southeast. He spent two years overseas in military service, and when he returned, he worked as an Extension beef cattle specialist for Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
In 1960 he returned to Association work as field representative for the American Hereford Journal. He next served as an Association fieldman for the same territory and then switched to the Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri territory.
In 1968 he moved to the Association headquarters as general manager of the American Hereford Journal. Next, he assumed responsibilities as the Association’s director of marketing. Then, in July of 1974, he was appointed the chief executive officer, a position he would continue for 24 years.
No doubt the Association went through ups and downs during those nearly three decades, but Dickenson was correct when he wrote in his farewell column in the August 1997 issue of the Hereford World: “I am confident you are about to see a big burst of demand toward Herefords and I hate to miss out on this upswing.”
Gary Smith, retired Monfort Endowed Chair Professor from Colorado State University, says, “I’ll remember Hop most for his willingness to risk his personal career and a lifetime of breed association achievements for a chance to demonstrate a breed’s ability to carve out for itself a prosperous future – by providing a consistently palatable product to those who eat beef.”
Considered the father of Certified Hereford Beef (CHB®), Dickenson is regarded as a breed association trailblazer. He was also responsible for introducing the total performance recording (TPR) and expected progeny difference (EPD) system and was a driving force in bringing the two populations of Hereford people and the cattle they raise together for the good of the industry.
Dickenson and his wife, Polly, have one son, Hank, and two grandsons.
T.D. "Dusty" Rich
T.D. "Dusty" Rich, Albuquerque, N.M., was inducted into the Hereford Hall of Merit. Dusty served as the American Polled Hereford Association’s (APHA) president for 10 years — 1979-89.
After being raised on a commercial cow-calf operation near Ringling, Okla., Rich obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University (OSU). Rich then continued his education at Purdue, where his doctoral work was in reproduction physiology and animal breeding.
After college Rich joined the faculty at South Dakota State University (SDSU), where he was named an outstanding teacher in the college of agriculture. After three years at SDSU, he moved to the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center at Overton to conduct research in beef cattle reproduction. After a short time in Texas, Rich returned to his home state of Oklahoma in 1973 to be an Extension animal breeding specialist for OSU. In 1977 he was promoted to professor.
He also was the first manager for Oklahoma Beef Inc., has served on committees for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and has judged more than 200 livestock shows.
He joined the APHA staff in October 1979. During his decade with the Association, the financial situation of the organization was very much improved. The Association’s net worth doubled, and its cash reserved for investments tripled. This improved financial position allowed programs to be continued without raising fees. Also, a comprehensive computerized records program was implemented, allowing registration certificates to include dam and sire summaries, herd profiles, individual EPDs (expected progeny differences) and more.
Rich played a leadership role in opening foreign markets for U.S. beef genetics to Australia, New Zealand and several African countries.
Recently he has served as a nutritionist with Alliance Nutrition Inc. (formerly Moorman’s).
Rich and his wife, Ginger, have two sons — Russ and Cory — and three grandchildren.