The Wisconsin dairy industry lost a longtime leader and friend on Sept. 9 with the unexpected death of Randy Geiger, 69, of Reedsville. Geiger died at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, Milwaukee, following an 18-day hospital stay due to complications of a heart attack.
The lifelong dairyman was raking hay on the family’s 376-acre farm when he suffered the heart attack. A volunteer to the end, Geiger had worked at the Farm Bureau food stand at the Manitowoc County Fair just two days earlier.
A humble man, Geiger knew everyone and was a friend to many.
Randall Andrew Geiger was born on Jan. 24, 1950, in Green Bay, Wis., the fifth of 13 children born to the late Monica (Kopidlansky) and Norbert Geiger Sr. He graduated from Brillion High School in 1968. He earned accreditations from the Badger Business School and Fox Valley Technical Institute.
Following his father’s untimely death in 1966, Geiger started a 50-year career dairy farming. On Aug. 1, 1969, he married Rosalie Pritzl at St. Mary’s Church in Reedsville and Ran-Rose Farms began. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last month.
Geiger was a former school board member in Reedsville and was vice chairman of the Town of Rockland Smart Growth and Land-Use Planning Committee. He was a former president of the Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative, and later served as an officer for the FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative.
He also lent his leadership to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, and served on both the Wisconsin Beef Council and Eastern Wisconsin Dairy Herd Cooperative boards. From 2008 to 2013, he was on the board of directors of the National Milk Producers Federation. He served as a director for World Dairy Expo, and was a member of the Wisconsin Dairy 2020 Task Force under Gov. Tommy Thompson. He also served on many boards and committees for county and state farm organizations and cooperatives.
Over the years, the Geigers received several awards for high-quality milk. In 1996 and from 1999 to 2011, their herd earned the Manitowoc County DHIA Udder Health Award. For more than a decade, their herd has been named the Top-Quality Herd for lowest somatic cell count for Verifine. In 2002, the herd was recognized by the National Mastitis Council as the National Dairy Quality Awards Midwest Milk Quality Award winner.
In 2015, the Geigers had 16 homebred cows with more than 200,000 pounds of lifetime milk production. Three of those produced more than 300,000 pounds of milk. At one time, Spirit, a cow born in 1980, was the top lifetime milk production leader in the state with 342,501 pounds. Spirit is a member of the world’s only million-pound cow family.
The Ran-Rose herd also received recognition for type. The herd won more than a dozen Progressive Genetics and Progressive Breeder awards from Holstein USA as well as Dams of Merit and Gold Medal Dam recognitions. Twelve times a cow from the Ran-Rose herd earned grand champion or reserve grand champion honors at the Manitowoc County Fair.
Geiger earned the Cooperative Network’s Cooperative Builder Award and received the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Honorary Recognition Award. He was presented as a Master Agriculturalist by the Wisconsin Agriculturalist in 2010 and garnered Lakeshore Technical College’s Dairy Honor Award. He was named Friend of the Manitowoc County Farm Bureau and was bestowed Manitowoc County’s Outstanding Ag Leader Award.
He is survived by his wife, Rosalie; a son, Corey, and his wife, Krista Knigge, of Mukwonago, Wis.; a daughter, Angela Zwald, her husband, Nate, and three children, Mary, Allison and Zach, all of Beaver Dam, Wis.; nine brothers and sisters; nieces and nephews; and many other relatives.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Brillion. Burial will follow at Kasson’s Holy Trinity Cemetery between Brillion and Reedsville.
Friends may call at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Brillion on Friday, Sept. 13, from 3 to 8 p.m. There will be a parish prayer service at 7:30 p.m. The visitation will continue at the church in Brillion on Saturday from 9 a.m. until the time of Mass at 10:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations and memorials will be accepted in the name of Randy Geiger. Contributions will be allocated to a scholarship fund in his name to help young people get their start in agriculture and to the American Heart Association.