Randy and Kim Fritzemeier grew up on farms just a few miles apart, he on a fourth generation farm in Stafford Count and she on a fifth generation farm in Pratt County. But they didn't meet until both were students Kansas State University.
"We didn't date college, though," Kim says. "It wasn't until after graduation when I was working at the Hutchinson News that we started dating. We had some mutual friends and just kept running into each other."
Randy and Kim were married in 1981 and she continued working at Hutchinson, driving back and forth until their second child was born.
"Kim's job was really valuable to our farming operation getting started," Randy says. "The off-farm income enabled us to get ahead faster."
Eventually, though with a second child, the commute got to be too much.
"Randy's mom lived close by and she helped a lot, but it was a long trip on country roads and it was just more than I could do."
That is not to say that Kim gave up a journalism career. She continued to write a regular column for the Hutchinson News for some time before taking on a work-from-home job as a central Kansas reporter for KFRM 550 Radio as well as writing a blog, kimscountyline.blogspot.com.
The Fritzemeiers say they also feel fortunate to have been able to rent the farm home they now own from one of their landlords.
"Randy had grown up a couple of miles north and drove by this house all the time and loved it," Kim says. "It was a terrific opportunity when the owner offered to rent it to us and we were eventually able to buy it."
Randy attended Stafford High School and then K-State, graduating with a bachelor's in Agricultural Economics in 1978 and regularly attends extension-sponsored field days and workshops to keep up with the latest research in commodity production, safety, marketing, regulations and record-keeping.
He is a lifelong member of the Stafford First United Methodist Church and has served in numerous leadership positions in the church.
He has also been active in extension and 4-H leadership and in youth organizations including the FFA Advisory Board at Stafford High School.
He is a member of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers board of directors, Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, Kaza Co-op Board of Directors, the Ark Valley Cooperative Nominating Committee and the Stafford County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.
He is also busy with civic activities including serving on the Stafford Development Board of Directors, the Stafford Country Club and the Stafford Optimist Club.
And, in a line-item not that often seen on a farmer's resume, he is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and Wizards of Wichita.
Kim is a 1975 graduate of Skyline High School in rural Pratt County, and a 1979 graduate of K-State with dual majors in home economics and mass communications.
She was a member of Byers United Methodist Church and Pratt United Methodist Church before marriage the First United Methodist Church of Stafford after marriage.
Kim has held numerous leadership positions in the church, taught Sunday School and served as editor of the church newsletter along with being a soprano soloist for the Chancel Choir from 1981 to the present day.
She has been involved in the Stafford middle school and high school music programs and in the local 4-H community in a number of areas.
Kim has continued her journalism career past daily newspaper employment to a role on social media as author of kimscountyline.blogspot.com and her traditional career as a reporter for KFRM 550AM radio as a Central Kansas reporter since 2008.
Kim has also continued her role as a journalist in community service, editing the Stafford Main Street and serving on publicity and marketing committees of community organizations.
The Fritzemeier children have made their mark in careers away from the farm but still important and essential to the Kansas economy.
Daughter, Jill, graduated from Stafford High School in 2004 and obtained a double major in Dietetics and Gerontology from Kansas State University in 2008. She went on to complete an internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, then enrolled in the Masters of Public Health program at Creighton University School of Medicine. She expects to graduate in 2015.
While in school she is also working as Team Nutrition Project Director for the Kansas State Department of Education in Topeka.
She has been involved in 4-H and has severed as reporter, treasurer, secretary and president of the Stafford Corn Valley 4-H Club as well as remaining active in church and civic affairs.
Son, Brent, graduated from Stafford High School in 2006 and earned his bachelors in public relations with a minor in business administration at K-State in 2010 and a masters of sport and entertainment at the University of South Carolina in 2012.
He began work in August of 2012 as Athletics Media and Marketing Coordinator and was recently hired for a new job starting March 17 at K-State, where he will be communications coordinator for the College of Business Administration.
He was involved in the Stafford Corn Valley 4-H Club from 1995 to 2006 and held the offices of president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and reporter.
He also has worked on the Stafford 40H Council and was junior superintendent in photography, beef and swine at the Stafford County Fair.
The Fritzemeier farming operation has grown from a start with 50 acres in 1972 to 3,170 acres currently owned and rented.
They are also investors in the Stafford Mercantile, a variety store on Stafford's Main Street.
They were among a group of local people who came together after Duckwall's stores pulled out of small towns such as Stafford to purchase the building and attempt to keep a source of supplies available in the local community.
Even though they doubt their children will come back to the farm, the Fritzemeiers say they have no doubt their land will remain in farming.
"When good land comes up for rent, there's no problem finding someone to farm it," Randy says. "We have landlords that have been mentors to us and almost like grandparents to our children. We expect to be here ourselves for a good many years to come and we feel confident we will find that next generation for this farm."