Marlene and Jim Mrnak
February 2, 2017
Jim, who passed away in 2010, dedicated his whole life to the Hereford breed. He and Marlene were married for 57 years and raised their five children in the Hereford business.
Jim was born on the family ranch near Bowman, N.D. After graduating from high school, he purchased five registered Hereford heifers and began to realize his dream of being a Hereford breeder. He also raised wheat, barley, oats, corn and alfalfa. Jim and Marlene married in 1953, and they made their life together breeding and selling Hereford cattle.
Mrnak Herefords embraced technology along the way. The Mrnaks enrolled in performance testing programs and used artificial insemination and embryo transfer.
Each February for the past 47 years, Mrnak Herefords has hosted a bull sale and has been successful in the showring as well. At the National Western Stock Show in Denver, the Mrnaks exhibited the champion Hereford female in both 2001 and 2003.
But possibly the couple’s biggest accomplishment has been raising their children — Connie, Wayne, Terry, Loren and Carla — with a love for the breed. Each has stayed involved in the cattle business. Wayne and Terry, along with Marlene, operate the original ranch at Bowman. Loren owns and operates Mrnak Herefords West in Nevada and California. Connie and her husband have a Hereford-based commercial operation, and Carla and her husband ranch in South Dakota.
“My father lived, breathed and ate Hereford beef his whole life,” Wayne says. “All of us kids were indoctrinated at a young age to the breed of cattle that we run today. Herefords have been very rewarding to our ranch and to our family.”
The entire Mrnak family is involved, led by Jim and Marlene’s example. Roger Stuber of nearby Stuber Ranch recommended them for this honor. He said, “They have both given their leadership skills and advice to the Hereford industry in many ways. County and state fairs, many Hereford tours, state and national leadership, along with many other endeavors. Both have given time and support to many other local and state activities.”
Fellow Hereford breeder Bill Bennett summarized their stamp on the Hereford breed nicely in his recommendation letter. He said, “The Mrnaks epitomize the quintessential Hereford cattle family. Jim and Marlene have dedicated their entire lives to the betterment of the Hereford breed. Their cattle have always been distinctive competitors within any arena the Mrnaks have chosen to place them.”