Remembering Dean's passion for promotion, all things dairy
This is the blog post I never imagined I would write. It probably is why I have delayed it for weeks. But for Dean’s honor, I need to just sit and let the words come out.
I first met Dean Strauss at a Land O’Lakes meeting when his friend Jeff Straussburg introduced us. Dean was being appointed to the Dairy Management Inc. board as an advisor from Wisconsin.
It did not take long to understand this farmer from Sheboygan Falls, Wis., held a ton of passion for all things related to dairy farming. He was quiet, yes, but he was not shy about sharing his support of the checkoff program or his endeavors to promote milk.
Not only did he bring his enthusiasm to several industry board rooms, he also brought busloads of kids and other groups to his Majestic Crossing farm to show people firsthand how he and his family care for their animals and land.
Dean was rightfully honored for his efforts. Earlier this year, he received the prestigious Dairy Business Association Advocate of the Year for his dairy promotion efforts. In the spring, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy named Majestic Crossing a winner in its Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability category.
Dean was great at asking questions, both in the board room or coming up to me personally. His questions were sometimes challenging, but never in a disrespectful way, just ideas to make us better. He suggested, “What do you think about a two-day meeting instead of three? We could save some time at the meeting and get the farmers back to the fields quicker.”
His care and questioning always came down to how we could be better at what we do, whether it related to sustainability, opening our farms to children, protecting our right to operate or best management practices. Formidable research and care for the land and environment always were on his mind.
It was shocking when I first heard about Dean’s accident. I had just talked to him the week prior, a lengthy conversation about promotion. Had I known it was my last conversation with him, it would have been much longer. None of us can predict things like this.
Wisconsin farmers had a very close connection with him and the fact that his cardiac arrest happened on the way home from the Dairy Experience in Minnesota gave them an intimate and meaningful experience in those final days.
But none of us knew that and it shows how fragile life can be.
In the short time I knew Dean, I am certain that he would not want us to dwell on his passing with sadness or lament over his empty seat in the board room. He would, however, expect us to keep going full speed with promotion, to use our time wisely and do our part to keep farms sustainable and profitable.
His obituary reads, “A bright, energetic, positive light in the dairy industry will shine no longer with the passing of Dean Strauss.”
I understand that comment. His infectious smile is no longer smiling back but it is my goal that Dean’s passion, enthusiasm and work ethic in the DMI board room will live on.