October 22, 2023
KANSAS CITY. Mo. – Phil and Joyce Ellis; Chrisman, Ill.; Marty Lueck, Mountain Grove, Mo.; and Vern and Jerry Rausch, Hoven, S.D; were inducted into the Hereford Hall of Fame Oct. 21 in Kansas City, Mo., during the American Hereford Association (AHA) Annual Meeting and Conference.
The Hall of Fame honor recognizes leaders and breeders who have influenced the trajectory and advancement of the Hereford breed.
Phil and Joyce Ellis, Chrisman, Ill., are the owners of Ellis Farms (EFBeef Cattle Genetics). Phil was raised on a registered polled Hereford farm, started by his father. It was there that his love for Hereford cattle began, as he raised cattle and traveled to national shows. Joyce is a fifth-generation Hereford breeder, growing up on the Lanthus Stock Farm near Lowell, Ind.
During a trip to the Lake County Fair in Indiana, their paths crossed. After Phil gave Joyce a tour of Huber Ranch to see their national champion bull, the couple began dating and married two years later. During their 62 years of marriage, they have seen cattle change, associations merge, technology advance and markets fluctuate, but their steadfast commitment to the Hereford breed has never wavered.
EFBeef is the continuation of 141 years of purebred Hereford genetics. The farm held its 75th annual production sale in 2023, on their seven-generation, 1820 homestead surrounded by 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans and hay, along with pastures of Hereford cattle. The couple has three children, Cathy (Joe), Matt (Lisa) and Joe (Lauri), and six grandchildren. Phil and Joyce exhibited high-quality Hereford cattle nationally in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, garnering awards and making connections at national shows across the U.S.
Today, EFBeef is one of the largest contributors to the AHA database for carcass phenotypes and feed efficiency phenotypes; countless cattle have been named AHA Sires of Distinction, Certified Hereford Beef® Sires of Distinction and Dams of Distinction. The operation is heavily involved in research by utilizing the National Reference Sire Program (NRSP), with 16 of their sires completing the program. Phil and Joyce have maintained a conception-to-harvest feedout program for more than 40 years, providing access to constant feedback to track and improve carcass traits.
Phil and Joyce are leaders. Phil served on the American Polled Hereford Association (APHA) Board of Directors. Phil was a founding member of the Illinois Junior Hereford Association. Joyce was a founding member of the National Organization of Poll-ettes, a member of the APHA Vision 2000 Committee and was an APHA signatory Board member of the merger for the APHA and AHA Associations.
EFBeef is a two-time nominee of the Beef Improvement Federation’s Seedstock Producer of the Year Award, a multi-winner of the Illinois Hereford Association Breeder of the Year and the Hall of Fame winner for the Illinois Polled Hereford Association. Phil and Joyce are both involved in their community, from school boards and 4-H clubs to state beef associations and the Hopewell Friends Quaker Church.
“I feel because of their leadership, vision of the future for Hereford cattle and their true American beliefs, they deserve to be inducted into the Hereford Hall of Fame,” writes Randy McCaskill, former APHA field representative, in his letter to the selection committee. “While this would be an honor for the family, the Hereford breed would also be honored to have a family like the Ellis family.”
Marty Lueck, Mountain Grove, Mo., grew up in Minnesota and is the oldest of seven children. Lueck got his start in the livestock industry at an early age, raising game birds.
Lueck graduated from high school and moved to Springfield, Mo., to attend Baptist Bible College before transferring to Missouri State University, where he met his future wife, Vicki. They married and had two sons, Eric and Ryan.
Lueck’s introduction to the Hereford breed came from Dr. Joe Viebrock, and his wife, Gail. Throughout college, Lueck worked for the couple, assisting with Dr. Viebrock’s veterinary practice and their herd of Hereford cattle. He went on to take the herd manager position at Eagle Claw Ranch, Branson, Mo. In 1981, Lueck was hired as the Journagan Ranch manager by Leo and Jean Journagan. With guidance from Lueck, the Journagans made major changes to their herd and hosted their first production sale in 1985. Over the decades, the ranch continued to build its cow herd with Lueck at the helm.
In 2010, Leo and Jean Journagan gifted the ranch and the registered Hereford herd to Missouri State University. The donation of the ranch to the university transformed the Darr College of Agriculture; students now have access to a unique educational site and more opportunities to pursue careers in beef production or natural resources and wildlife management. The ranch hosted their 32nd sale in October. Lueck’s influence on the university runs deep, from mentoring students to maintaining one of the best Hereford herds in the country.
“I have witnessed Marty providing lectures to large classes, to visits with individuals having all expertise levels, all with the same degree of high energy and enthusiasm,” writes Anson Elliott, Dean Emeritus, Darr College of Agriculture, in his letter to the selection committee. “He demonstrates being a lifelong learner who is constantly in the process of improving every aspect of a successful ranch.”
Beyond the ranch, Lueck has judged national shows from Reno, Nev., to Harrisburg, Pa., and many state and regional shows. He has served in leadership positions for the Missouri Hereford Association, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Show-Me Select Heifer Program and Missouri Beef Industry Council. He is constantly working to improve the world around him.
Lueck was voted onto the APHA Board of Directors in 1988, and in 1995, he was appointed to the committee for the merger with the AHA. In 2009, Marty was elected to the AHA Board of Directors. He is one of the only individuals to hold a position on both Boards. Additionally, Lueck was an instrumental part of hosting the 2014 AHA Genetic Summit at Missouri State University.
For 42 years, Lueck has managed the Journagan Ranch. There’s no doubt his leadership, guidance and dedication to the Hereford breed has impacted countless lives and will be felt for years to come.
Vern and Jerry Rausch have been partners in Rausch Herefords, Hoven, S.D., since they were 10 years old. Faith, family and Herefords are three things synonymous with the Rausch family, which now welcomes the fourth generation of cattlemen into the operation. The ranch’s Hereford roots trace back to 1946, when Vern and Jerry’s parents, along with their older siblings, sold their flock of sheep and bought their first registered Hereford cows to form Rausch Herefords. At 10 years old, Jerry and Vern both received their first Hereford heifer as a reward for doing chores and taking care of the farm animals. They earned more heifers in lieu of wages until they were 21.
The first Rausch bull and female sale was held in 1959, and in 1965, Vern and Jerry merged their small herds with their father’s and joined in the management of Rausch Herefords. Their sons and grandsons now manage the operation. This year marked the ranch’s 65th annual sale.
Jerry has been married to his wife, Vicki, for 56 years, and Vern and his wife, Sharon, have been married for 58 years. Vicki and Sharon are sisters. Jerry served in the National Guard for six years after high school, and Vern attended South Dakota State University and studied agricultural management.
Vern and Jerry are trailblazers. They were the first Hereford breeders in South Dakota to utilize sale videos and video auction services. Their father was one of the first to use scales to weigh cattle. The Rausch families have had the most cows to qualify for the AHA’s Dams of Distinction list each year since 1980, with more than 1,000 Rausch females receiving the honor. Moreover, bulls with the ‘R’ prefix have made significant contributions to the breed, siring thousands of calves.
As dedicated as the pair is to the cow herd, Vern and Jerry have served the Hereford breed and their communities in a variety of ways. Vern and Jerry both have served on the South Dakota Hereford Association board of directors. Jerry is active in the local American Legion and has been a member of his church choir for 60 years. Both have served several years on local medical and hospital boards. Vern was a member of the first newly merged horned and polled AHA Board of Directors and helped create the current bylaws. He also served on the committees to merge the separate junior programs and auxiliaries, and helped develop Certified Hereford Beef®, serving as the first chairperson. Both brothers have served on the local “Cathedral of the Prairie” St. Anthony Catholic Church board.
“Vern and Jerry Rausch have poured their hearts and souls into their family and cow herd,” writes Matt Zens, South Dakota Hereford Association president, in his letter to the selection committee. “Their attention to detail and demand for excellence is second to none. They have provided the framework for their family to place the right person in the right job for the entire operation to excel.”
Herefords are Vern and Jerry’s passion. The brothers work together, combining their own unique talents and abilities to raise and manage one of the largest registered Hereford herds in the U.S., while bringing the next generations of hard working, talented family members into the fold.
The American Hereford Association, with headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., is one of the largest U.S. beef breed associations. The not-for-profit organization along with its subsidiaries — Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) LLC, Hereford Publications Inc. (HPI) and American Beef Records Association (ABRA) — provides programs and services for its members and their customers, while promoting the Hereford breed and supporting education, youth and research. For more information about the Association, visit Hereford.org. For pictures and additional news releases, visit www.hereford.org/media.