Odell Gelvin has spent a lifetime working in the Hereford breed, beginning when he was 12 years old working on the W.E. Harvey Ranch in Ada, Okla., before and after school. After his father’s death, he moved and began caring for the commercial herd and working in the show barn at the Colvert Ranch in Millcreek, Okla. Then, Odell worked in the Gus Delaney Ranch show barn in Ada until 1945, when he enlisted in the Navy. After his service in the Navy, Odell returned to Oklahoma and married his high school sweetheart, Kate. Odell and Kate have three children: Ron, Linda and Susie.
Odell went on to work for Edge Cliff Farms of Potosi, Mo., and Banning and Lewis in Colorado Springs, Colo. Following his work in Missouri and Colorado, he became the herdsman for Northern Pump Farms in McHenry, Ill., one of the largest Hereford breeders at the time. During his tenure at Northern Pump Farms, few herds were more competitive at national shows. Travelling the country via railcar, Odell fit and showed numerous champions, including the grand champion Hereford bull at the World Hereford Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. For years, through Odell’s skill as a fitter and showman, Northern Pump Farms attained success in the carload shows at the National Western Stock Show. Showing a carload consisting of 12 to 15 head was no small feat, and in 1961, Odell was selected as the Herdsman of the Year.
In the mid 1960s, Odell accepted a manager position with Ogeechee Farms in Fairland, Okla. Under his direction, Ogeechee Farms’ performance polled Hereford herd became a national leader. Odell was also instrumental in helping establish the Oklahoma Beef Testing Station in Stillwater, Okla. The center had a large impact on the Hereford breed, providing data on different sires. During the 20 years he managed Ogeechee Farms, Odell bred, fit and showed both the Grand Champion Carload of Bulls and the Grand Champion Hereford Bull in the same year. He also won the premier exhibitor award at the National Polled Hereford Show.
Outside of his work as a herdsman, Odell judged livestock shows. Over two decades, Odell judged national Hereford shows across the U.S. and in Argentina and Venezuela. Odell served on the American Polled Hereford Association Board of Directors and the Oklahoma Polled Hereford Association board of directors. Odell also served on the First Bank of Fairland board for many years. Odell’s passion for the Hereford breed runs deep, and his impact will be felt for many generations.