Our 2012 Distinguished Service Award winner did not intend to become a farmer as he graduated from high school – in fact, his plans called for something quite different… far from farming in an industry now going through its own share of changes.
As an apprentice at a printing company, he could not have anticipated the events that would call him back to the family farm to make it his life’s work.
The third of seven children, our honoree grew up on his family’s northern Summit County farm that his great-grandfather bought in 1900.
He and his siblings ran wild with their cousins around the farm, woods and fields of a dairy and grain farm that later turned to chickens and a large egg-laying operation.
Our honoree met his wife of 42 years while attending high school together. They married in 1970, started their family in 1971 and ultimately, welcomed five children.
In 1972, however, when his father was paralyzed in a grain bin accident, he stepped in to take his father’s place on the farm, and with the help of family and his Uncle Art, he took on the yoke of running the farm.
When Art retired in 1979, our honoree’s late brother Eddie became his farming partner, raising chickens and Black Angus cattle, along with running a grain and hay-making operation through the 1980s.
When the market changed in the early 1990s, the chickens gave way to vegetable production and agritourism. With the opening of the farm to the public during the summer and fall, our honoree began to put his unique tinkering skills to work.
Always with a keen interest in how things work, he saw a pumpkin cannon on a television show and decided that he could do better. The mechanical monster that resulted from that tinkering is now a featured attraction during the family farm’s fall festivals.
When the Summit County Farm Bureau borrowed a large, rotating, gas-fired pancake griddle for its annual Farmer’s Share breakfast, our honoree looked it over, made some mental notes, then came back the next year with a bigger, better, faster, hotter pancake griddle more than equal to the task.
Our honoree’s children have fond – and some not so fond – memories of growing up on the farm. Their father put them to work in the fields, in the barns, and in the chicken coop, instilling a strong work ethic in them, but always adding in some learning, some fun, and some humor.
Son Scott remembers riding in the egg van with his father, delivering eggs all around Akron and selling them to the grocery stores. He recalls that his father loved to talk to the managers at the stores then, and still loves talking to people today.
Son John remembers a field his father used to farm down at the bottom of Wiltshire Hill bordering a golf course where they harvested a very different crop – golf balls – returning with buckets full of them.
Son Tim fondly recalls the time he and John were with their father at the Wilmot Farm in North Royalton plowing, and their dad made his John Deere pop a wheelie.
While Dan remembers countless hours on the back of a hay wagon helping bale hay, daughter Sarah fondly recalls riding on the chicken feeding buggy while her father maneuvered it up and down the aisles of chickens.
And all of the kids remember gathering eggs – as Scott recalls, he and John would race to see who could finish their half of the chicken house first, and, on some nights, they would end up with more broken than gathered.
Today, our Distinguished Service Award Winner spends his time picking sweet corn for the family market, but still looks for other crops to harvest from the field. An avid hunter of Native American artifacts, he has amassed a large collection of arrowheads. He enjoys spending time with his six grandchildren, imparting to them the wit and wisdom only farm life can bring to a family.
Our award winner has served the Summit County Farm Bureau in many capacities: as President of the Board from 2006-2012; as Government Affairs chair from 2003-2006; as Vice President in 1992-1993; and, most recently, as our Membership Campaign Chairman in 2012. He also served on the former Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS), and as a Richfield Township Trustee from 1985 to 2001.
Please join us as we congratulate our Distinguished Service Award Winner, Robert Luther!