Beginning in 1999, the Black
Hills Stock Show Foundation created a family endowment program. Originating this
effort is Joe Norman of rural Piedmont who has served as the non-profit
organization’s president since 1997. A strong commitment to the
Foundation’s mission of preserving the legacy and investing in the future led
him to consider the importance of establishing a vehicle through which families
of individuals - who in their lifetime embodied that mission - could preserve a
RAY SWITZER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
After receiving his Bachelors of Science Degree in Animal Science from South Dakota State University, Ray Switzer went on to build a successful career and business in agriculture over the next 40 years.
He never forgot how he got there.
At the time of his death in January 1999, the Black Hills Stock Show Foundation was gifted with an endowment presented by his son’s, Ron and Doug Switzer. In memory of their father, the endowment is to be used to provide an annual scholarship to a student who will attend SDSU to further their education in agriculturally related fields of study.
Born in 1924 in Ramona, SD, Switzer began his career at the Sioux City Iowa Stockyards, broadcasting livestock markets.
He began Switzer & Company 15 years later, a commission firm that grew to be recognized as among the leading firms in the US.
His expertise was sought from coast to coast as a judge
of over 200 cattle shows. Active in agricultural policy issues, he served as a
representative in Washington, D.C., as a spokesman for the cattle community.
EDDIE RYPKEMA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
As a young man, Eddie Rypkema would not know the halls of higher education. The oldest son in the family, he went straight to work to help support the family.
He never stopped learning.
Born in 1914 in Westfield, ND, his life would take him on a course of studies that began with the lesson that hard work and determination pays off. Even after he had achieved business success, he continued to apply those values. “Times were hard for my Dad and his family,” says daughter Janet Sibell, “but he always believed it had made him stronger - that and his faith.”
A loving and committed family man (he married Vernell Peterson in 1936) he began in business in Deadwood, SD with a tire-retreading shop and service station, later establishing a Dodge and Chevrolet dealership. Following a move to Rapid City, SD in 1976 he opened an RV dealership and trucking dealership. His progressive business applications would come into play when he introduced leasing programs for passenger vehicles and later the big rigs, making it possible for professional haulers to get into the tool of their trade without having to purchase outright.
Community service was important to him and he did his fair share; as Mayor of Deadwood, as a director on the Rushmore Credit Board and a Rapid City Regional Hospital Board of Trustee. He was a member of area chamber of commerce and other various service organizations, serving for 15 years as of the chairman of the Days of ‘76 in Deadwood.
A special interest in ranching led him to registered black Angus cattle and ranches in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming and to the show ring at the Black Hills Stock Show.
He enjoyed the traditions of ranching but was also a student of advancing reproductive technologies in livestock husbandry. As a supporter of the Black Hills Stock Show Foundation, his life’s work mirrored the Foundation’s mission of preserving the legacy, while investing in the future.
The legacy of Eddie Rypkema who passed on January 4,
2000, was one of personal and professional integrity. He knew the value of a
handshake and the value of education. His was a degree in .... life.
CALVIN and MARY BLAIR MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
Calvin Blair was a quiet man.
So you wouldn’t necessarily know that the product of one of South Dakota’s most recognized ranch families loved a good game of hockey and bowling. Or that he spent time making more baseball bats than anyone can remember, for any kid who needed one.
Born in 1916 he would become what people described as a good neighbor; a man with common sense and whose handshake was as good as gold. His was not a life’s pursuit of material things but rather one of a deep and abiding love for the land and Hereford cattle.
“Dad and Mom often told the story of taking a judging team of 4-H kids to Denver one year,” shares son Bruce Blair. “They would laugh when they said it was the most fun they had ... and also the most work.”
And Calvin was no stranger to hard work. His family would originate from Missouri, settling in the Pleasant Valley area of the Black Hills in 1907. Brothers Enis, John, (Calvin’s father), Harry and Strother would grow their land and holdings to include a registered Hereford cattle herd in 1921, located near Tilford, SD with the first annual production sale held in 1923.
In 1948, the brothers would dissolve their partnership. John Blair and son Calvin assumed the purebred herd that would forge what is now known as the Black Hills Hereford Ranch. And for the next half century, production Hereford bull sales would continue as a mainstay of the ranch ... and of history as the longest running consecutive seedstock sale in South Dakota - 76 years total. Along the way Calvin and his wife Mary (Johnson) married in 1937, would see many changes from the early days when they would ride the rail cars that shipped their cattle to the Chicago Stockyards ... just to make sure the cattle had plenty of feed and water.
That level of caring could also be seen in his 25 years as a 4-H leader, a trustee, elder and deacon of the 1st Presbyterian Church and a member of the school board for 20 years. He was a grassroots leader in the earliest efforts to organize the Western Junior Livestock Show and what was then known as the Black Hills Winter Show.
It was while showing cattle around the country, including the widely noted Denver Stock Show, that Calvin realized that what ranchers in his part of the country had raised up, were just as good - if not better - than anything coming out of Denver.
And that’s how it started - it being the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo. In 1958, Calvin and a small group of breeders threw open the doors of a quonset building on the fairgrounds, hauled in straw, plenty of hot coffee and invited seedstock producers to come. The wash bay was a garden hose attached to a water spicket .... outside. Icicles hung off cattle and people. And still they came.
He never stopped being a part of all that. Before his passing in 1998, he would be inducted into the Black Hills Stock Show Hall of Fame in 1996.
“I’d have to say,” observes Bruce, “that he got the biggest kick out of giving kids every opportunity .... to grow up like he did.”
His would not be a life that included formal education but rather one of hands-on learning - a lifetime of learning and sharing that with others.
Calvin and Mary Blair left behind a remarkable story.
Born in 1918 in Bear Butte Valley, Mary (Johnson) married Calvin in 1937 and remained on the ranch until her death in 2002. Raising a family, keeping the ranch books and involvement with outside youth activities filled the time and the years. “Something Mom had always wanted to do,” recalls Bruce, “is continue her formal education. But like many families of that time, you couldn’t afford to do that and like so many ranch women, Mom ‘made do’“.
When dining room chairs wore out, Mary learned to upholster; when a new dress was in order, she sewed one; when bookkeeping or tax rules changes, she went to seminars and classes. While the family had business interests in town, Mary covered there when Calvin was needed at the ranch.
An unassuming person, she saw her role as one of behind-the-scenes support and while she wasn’t one for speaking in a group setting, “one-on-one, she had plenty to say,” remembers Bruce.
And a sense of humor. “Most people wouldn’t know that about her,” he says. Long before the art of devising fanciful displays out of run-of-the-mill things found on a ranch became something you see every day, Mary had an eye for the humorous. “I’ll never forget coming in from the hay fields one evening, driving home and coming up on a hay bale that Mom had put her touch to. It made us smile and welcomed us home.”
*Family includes son Bruce and his wife Susie; and daughter Linda Hardenbrook and her husband Gary.
We make it easy to become a part of helping kids, families and organizations.
Take a quick trip through our website, request more information regarding the Foundation, a copy of our most recent newsletter, or request an application to become a Stockman’s Club member.
There are so many ways to lend a helping hand. Join us, won’t you?