The purpose of the Defiance County Agriculture Hall of Fame is to recognize outstanding contributions by an individual to agriculture.
Congratulations to our 2022 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
Virgil H. Hoene
Business owner/Farmer: Sherwood, Ohio
Spouse: Janice Hoene
Mr. Hoene grew up on the family farm outside of Ney helping with the operation of raising grain and cattle. He attended Ney School and is a 1961 graduate of Fairview High School. While attending Fairview he was very active in the FFA Chapter. His success started early in high school as he was awarded Star Greenhand, Chapter Degree, Fairview’s Top Agricultural Student and received his State FFA Degree. Virgil took on leadership roles in the FFA as Vice President in 1960 and President in 1961 were his leadership lead to the Chapter receiving the Star Chapter Award.
After graduation in 1961 Virgil began working at Decker Inc. After his marriage to his high school sweetheart, Janice, they bought their own farm in 1963 in Williams County and then in 1965 bought his current farm in Defiance County. In 1979 he acted on a chance to buy equity in Decker Inc. and continued there working as second in command to Mr. Dave Decker. After the death of Mr. Decker, Virgil took over management and eventually merged the business with Archbold Equipment creating the Sherwood location of Archbold Equipment. During his tenure he has been on the Board of Decker Equipment and continued to be on the board of the newly created Archbold Equipment Company after the merger. He continued the management of the day-to-day operations and continued his leadership on the board Archbold Equipment Company up to his retirement in 2009. Throughout his working career he played a critical role in providing quality equipment, service, and parts for countless farmers across Defiance County. After retirement Virgil continued to serve on the Board of Archbold Equipment and oversaw much of the growth that Archbold Equipment experienced going from 2 locations to 12 locations today as Redline Equipment Company. This expansion impacted not only in Defiance County but also in the greater Northwest Ohio, Southeast Michigan, and Northeast Indiana agricultural communities.
Mr. Hoene’s contributions were not only to the agricultural industry but service to his Sherwood community. Virgil was Mayor of Sherwood from 1971-1979 where he was instrumental in the construction of the Sherwood sewer project, President of the Sherwood Town Council, member of the Sherwood Fire Board and Sherwood Lions Club. Also served on the board of the Antwerp Exchange Company and 32 years on the Board of Directors for the Sherwood Mutual Telephone Association. Virgil has been a little league baseball coach and a proud member and supporter of the Fairview Athletic Boosters. He is a member of the St. Isidore Church and has been member of the Church Council.
He still enjoys farming, tractor pulling, fishing, and hunting. Most times you can find his dog right there with him. He is a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grand father. The nominator shared this on the submitted pages, “There are few places in Sherwood that you cannot see his impact on the community.”
Joe R. Nester
Business owner: Bryan, Ohio
Spouse: Beckie Nester
Mr. Nester is a graduate of Fairview High School. Joe attended Northwest State Community College taking various classes in Agri business and Real Estate. He also attended Terra University, Terra Int’l – Ohio State University at Wooster. He continued to further his knowledge and education for the next 40 plus years. Joe started work at Sohigro/ Terra in Mark Center in 1978 and managed the retail fertilizer plant until 1992. He purchased several John Deere 750 no-till drills in the early 1990s and rented them to area farmers to promote no-till soybeans.
Mr. Nester saw need for farmers to have a place where they could get agronomic advice, independent of fertilizer sales. Joe turned the need into Nester Ag LLC. He is the co-owner of Nester Ag where they specialize in providing farmers with soil consulting, nutrient management planning and agricultural technology consulting. He is a Certified Crop Adviser, 4R Nutrient management certified and has spent countless hours promoting conservation practices in the Defiance/ Williams County area. Farmland and water quality has always been a high priority! He has served on the Conservation Action Project of Northwest Ohio for over 20 years. In 2012 he was Defiance Soil & Water Cooperator of the Year. His continued passion for conservation earned him the Williams Soil & Water 2017 Cooperator of the Year.
Mr. Nester’s ability to reason with people, his common sense thinking and his ability to work with a group has allowed him to inform and motivate entire groups. This is shown by his many accomplishments at local, state and national level. Here are few of those examples: Outstanding Crop Consultant to Local and Regional Farmers, 2013 Ohio CCA of the Year, Brookside Laboratories Hall of Fame, National No-Till Consultant Award, and 2008 International Associate Award For Consultants – Brookside Laboratories. Mr. Nester also has given much of his time to Agricultural community! He has served on many local, state, and national Agricultural boards. Including Board Chairman of Ohio Certified Crop Advisers, President of the Ohio Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Board member and Chairman of Brookside Laboratories, and a Certified Technical Service Provider with Ohio and Indiana NRCS. Nester Ag has also cooperated with Ohio State University, NRCS, and USDA Ag Research Service with many field research projects.
However, his service has not just been to the Agricultural community. He served four years as Fairview Summer League President as well as sponsoring and coaching several teams. He has helped Central Local Schools and served on Levy Committees. He has served as treasurer for the Williams County Conservation League for 15 years. Joe started an endowment account that pays all expenses for youth trap shooters and has coached youth trap shooters to State Championships. The Nesters attend Sonrise Church at Ney, and Joe is a Director of The Hicksville Bank and past Chairman.
Roger J. Jr. & Lois S. Zeedyk
Farmers: Hicksville, Ohio
Roger Born: 6-15-1948
Lois Born: 7-10-1950
Roger and Lois Zeedyk are the owners of the family farm in Mark Township which they purchased in 1972. They raise corn, soybeans, and corn silage. They started with an IH 560 and H tractors, a 14-foot disc, a 4-bottom plow, and a 1-row corn picker. They still live on the family farm and are semi-retired with Roger still helping with planting and harvest operations. The farm operations have changed since those days with a plow and disc. They have had all their land systematically tiled. They have made a lot of progress in controlling water and nutrient runoff, especially when applying manure.
Roger is a graduate of Fairview High School. He served in the Army Infantry as a paratrooper in Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Metal with V-device for bravery and a Purple Heart for being wounded in combat. He served as a guardian on the Honor Flight to Washington D.C. for WWll veterans to visit the WWll Memorials. Roger is a Life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Disabled Veterans.
Lois is a graduate of Edon High School. Lois grew up on a dairy farm and has been a very active farmwife. While Roger worked at GM for 6 years, she took care of the farm, feeding bottle calves and feeding hogs. She worked fields in tractors with no cabs so when Roger got home, he could start planting! She also did a lot of grain hauling, running errands, cooking meals, gardening, and canning. She was and still is in charge of the bookkeeping!
Roger and Lois have not only been a part of the Agricultural community but the local community for a long time. They are active members of St John Lutheran Church and have held many leadership roles. Central Local Schools was also a beneficiary as Roger was a school board member for over 20 years and Lois was active in the PTA. Both are lifetime members of the Fairview Academic Boosters, and Athletic Boosters. Along with Ray Woodring, Roger and Ray founded the Fairview Young Farmers in 1978, and that organization is very active today! In 2015 Roger and Lois were bestowed the Appreciation to Fairview FFA award. Roger shared recently the value he found being involved in the Young Farmers, was that it “expanded his neighborhood”, by making farmer friends beyond his local area that he enjoys year after year.
The Defiance County Fair has been a big part of their life for many years. Roger served on the Jr Fair Livestock Committee and Jr Fair Livestock Sale Committee and was awarded the Defiance County Junior Fair 30+ Club. Both, Roger and Lois, work alongside Fairview Young Farmers, on Ag Day Dinners, sausage stand, pig catch, and mutton busting which are all ways they gave back to 4-H and FFA. Mr. Zeedyk is always looking to find a better way for area farmers to improve their operations. For almost 25 years, he had coordinated a 2–3-day summer van trips for 4-8 farmers to tour other parts of the corn belt. North Dakota, Arkansas, and many places in between to assess crops, meet other farmers and share ideas. His travel is not limited to the US but have traveled to Brazil twice to view other farming practices. As members of the Hicksville Rotary, Roger and Lois hosted a veterinarian from India. Also, alongside Defiance County Extension Ag Agent Bill Rohrs started the Defiance County Agronomy Club and co-founded a grain marketing group.
From the beginning Roger and Lois have always paid attention to details, pride in their work, and doing things right. They believe in keeping the farm tidy, weed free and being good neighbors. They are very proud of all their children and thrilled that all three of their sons are directly involved in agriculture today.
John & Patsy Koerner
Dairy and Grain Farmers: Edgerton, Ohio
John: Born 10-05-1934; Deceased 11-08-2014
Patsy: Born 01-03-1935; Deceased 07-13-2015
John and Patsy Koerner operated a dairy and grain operation located in northern Defiance County. John graduated from Edgerton High School and was a veteran of the peacetime Army that was stationed in Stuttgart Germany. He was the 4th generation to operate the family farm. Although he had no college degree, he was an avid reader and focused his intellectual and mechanical abilities on agriculture. John took over the farming operations in 1958 where he utilized “modern” conservation techniques and was one of the first to adopt no till techniques in northwest Ohio. He expanded the farming operations in the 1960’s and recognized the potential time savings that automation could bring to the operation. In 1970 he designed an automated system to grind, mix, and deliver feed to cattle. This innovative system featured “Push-Button Feeding from Silo to Parlor” article in the 1972 February issue of Successful Farming. As new technology developed, John was an early adopter of such techniques as artificial insemination, specialty feed mixes, automated milking equipment, and food consumption monitoring at the individual cow level. He often helped area farmers implement or modify their conservation, automation, and mechanical systems.
Throughout his life, John served as a board member for many agricultural focused organizations such as Defiance Soil and Water Board, Northwest Electric Cooperative, Farm Bureau, Dairy Service Unit, Milk Marketing Association, and Landmark Association. He organized and operated the Dairy Farmer’s Milk Shake Stand at the Williams County Fair.
Patsy M. (Lukrofka) Koerner was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri. She was a 1953 graduate of Rolla High School and a 1957 graduate of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts and an emphasis on writing and editing. Patsy worked as a children’s editor for Christian Standard Publishing Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio. She met John through friends at the office and later married. After moving to the Koerner family dairy farm, Patsy remained active as a Christian writer and inspirational speaker. She published countless articles about a time on the farm and the forgotten element of agriculture – the farm wife. Her articles were published in many magazines such as The Lookout Magazine, The Christian Standard, Hoard’s Dairyman, Successful Farming, Farm Journal, Farmer’s Advance, and Farm Wife News. She was also a member of the Northwest Electric Cooperative, Farm Bureau, and Dairy Service Unit.
John was an elder and Patsy was a pianist at West Milford Church of Christ for many years and later they became members of First Church of Christ in Bryan. Patsy later took the secretarial duties of the Church and was a Sunday school leader helping with vacation bible school, church camp and led many Christian workshops. They hosted countless school groups in the hope of inspiring future generations of Defiance children to enter the agricultural profession.
John passed along his love for the land and animals to his daughter, Teresa. Teresa went on and is enjoying a 25-year career as a 4-H Educator for The Ohio State University Extension. The circle of family involvement in agriculture has now reached its 5th generation.
Congratulations to our 2020 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
Tom L. Flory
Jewell Grain: Defiance County, Ohio
Spouse: Carolyn Flory
Mr. Flory was born in Jewell Ohio to Martha and Robert Flory along with his 3 brothers, Bobby, Dave and Terry. Tom and Carolyn were married in 1964 and have 5 children, Mark, Matt, Eric, Christina, and Chad and 10 grandchildren. He and Carolyn have raised their family just down the road from his childhood home. Tom’s love of agriculture and community comes from his youth where he took cattle in 4-H to the Defiance County Fair.
Tom worked full time at Jewell Grain Company as a Commercial Applicator from 1965 - 1968 and again in 1998 – 2012 until his retirement. Then he came back part time in 2013 and is still currently working. With spraying being his main responsibility, he has sprayed thousands of acres over time. He still knows many of the fields like the back of his hand and will have a story to go along with them a lot of the time. Tom has seen many advancements in equipment, technology and in the chemicals over the years. Started his application career in 3 wheel Hi-Boy with just a 20-foot-wide boom to now a machine that has GPS, auto steer, electronic monitors, Air-conditioned cab with 100 ft booms. He makes sure the fields are done correctly, that nothing is missed or overlooked. Tom is very respectful of the environmental issues that go along with spray applications by always being mindful of run off and wildlife areas. When he is not spraying, he works dumping grain, drying corn late into the night and helped load rail cars. His background in carpentry and his work experiences has helped him perform maintenance on the buildings and equipment all around the Jewell Grain facility. Deb Peter, at Jewell Grain, has often referred to Tom as her go-to-guy.
When he isn’t working at the elevator, Tom can almost always be found outside. He and Carolyn work as a well-oiled machine to tackle all projects around the home and yard. He can be found spending time with his sheep in the barn or rabbit hunting with his beagle puppy, Oscar. Tom is a long-time usher at St. John’s Catholic Church in Defiance where he will be one of the first faces you see at the 10 am mass. Tom has also been an advisor of the Jewell Project Producers 4-H Club, and a member of the Jewell Volunteer Fire Department for 55 years. His love of agriculture and farming has paved the way for 3 grandchildren to continue in his footsteps of agriculture. Two grandsons have a baling business in Jewell where he has often given guidance, advise and help on hot summer days! His love of livestock has rubbed off to a granddaughter. Tom is often checking up on the granddaughter’s Hampshire flock and maybe her also!
Tom is a very quiet and humble man. The first thing you notice is his warm smile which is said he got from his mother Martha. He is the first to show up and the last to leave a job! A few knee replacements may have slowed him down but it has not stopped him from helping a neighbor or family in need.
Gary L. Mavis
Farmer: Defiance County, Ohio
Spouse: Pat Mavis
Mr. Mavis operates a grain farm located in Farmer Township where he raises corn, soybeans, and wheat. He is a graduate of Fairview High School and the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics. Gary and his wife Pat were married in 1973 and have three children Scott, Brian and Kimberly. They are blessed with 12 grandchildren which they enjoy very much.
Gary started out as a branch manager of Landmark in Paulding Ohio while farming part time with his father. In 1979, with the support of Pat, Gary became a full-time farmer. His son Scott joined the operation while Scott was in high school and together, they continued the fourth-generation farm. Mr. Mavis has practiced conservation on all of his farms which includes farms in Defiance and Williams Counties. His belief in protecting, improving, and making a priority to minimize nutrients leaving his farms has led to no-till and minimum-till practices. Gary adopted conservation practices early in his farming career when there were little, or no such practices being done. His planning and adoption of conservation practices led to his 1985 Defiance County Soil and Water Cooperator of the Year. He has participated in several watershed conservation programs and was the first to install a block chute in Defiance County. Gary’s interest in conservation has led him to serve on several ditch maintenance boards and is currently on the ditch maintenance steering committee. From 1986 through 2012 (9 terms) Gary has been a member of the Defiance County Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors. In that time span he has held numerous officer positions including chairperson. He also served on the Conservation Action Project team and was chairman in 2001 and 2008.
Mr. Mavis also serviced our country in the Ohio National Guard for six years. He is currently a member of the Farmer American Legion Post 137. His service was not limited to our country, but also our community. Gary coached baseball for many years putting in countless hours to help his children and area youth. He is a long-time member of St. Patrick Catholic Church. Also, a contributing farmer to the Growing Hope Program (formerly known as Food Resource Bank). Their help taught practical farming practices in counties such as India.
Gary is most importantly an outstanding husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Gary always has a professional, calming, caring personality with whomever he is talking. His nominator added that he can think through any situation to come up with the responsible, logical solution.
2019 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
James F. Joost
Farmer & Ag Business: Defiance County, Ohio
Born: 07-29-1954 Deceased: 12-11-2005
Spouse: Brenda (Joost) Penner
Milo A. Crockett
Farmer: Defiance, Ohio
Spouse: Donna Crockett
Ted T. Pohlmann
Farmer: Defiance County, Ohio
Spouse: Carol Pohlmann
2018 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
G. Ray Clevenger
Ag Career: Defiance, Ohio
Spouse: A. Ann Clevenger
2017 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
Carl F. Vollmer
Spouse: Janet Vollmer
Joyce A. Cavanaugh
Ag Career: Defiance, Ohio
Spouse: Steven Cavanaugh
2016 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
Marion L. Retcher
Farm: Defiance, Ohio
Spouse: Alice Retcher (passed 2005)
Wayne J. Sprow
Farm and Dairy: Ney, Ohio
Spouse: Eileen Sprow
Louis "Louie" R. Shininger
Farm: Ney, Ohio
Spouse: Charette Shininger
2015 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
Carl D. Higbea
Farmed: Defiance, Ohio
Spouse: Bernadine C. (Panning) Higbea
Ada D. Arps
Farmed and Business Owner: Defiance, Ohio
Born: 07-17-1915 Deceased: 05-18-2016
Spouse: Dorence H. Arps
Daniel "Dan" H. Singer
Farmed: Sherwood, Ohio
Spouse: Bennette K. (Kunesh) Singer
2014 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
Waldo E. Imbrock
Farmed: Defiance, Ohio
Spouse: Clara (Bostelman) Imbrock
Richard L. Cline
Worked: Defiance County, Ohio
Born: 10-30-1927 Deceased: 06-28-2011
Spouse: Catherine A. Cline
Farmed: Defiance, Ohio
Spouse: Anita Rethmel
2013 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
William (Bill) A. Cleland, Sr.
Spouse: Doris Cleland
Lyle R. Sigg
Born: 04-03-1924 Deceased: 03-06-2003
Spouse: Madonna Sigg
Dorence O. Schliesser
Spouse: Rita Schliesser
2012 Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees;
Cletus F. Vetter
Spouse: Alice Vetter
Lee W. Kaemming
Spouse: Bonnie Kaemming
A. Henry (Hank) Arnos
Born: 04-13-1919 Deceased: 09-24-2001
Spouse: Mildred Arnos