A member of the fourth class of Master Farmers named after the program was restarted in 1968 passed away recently. Richard ‘Dick’ Ward, a longtime farmer near Crawfordsville, died in mid-April. The Master Farmer program today is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
Ward was innovative, having one of the first confinement feeding barns for hogs. Don Villwock, president of Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc., Edwardsport, remembers visiting Ward’s farm while in class at Purdue. It was his first time to see a hog confinement building.
Others named as Master Farmers along with Ward in 1971 were Lloyd Clayton, deceased, Morris hoar, Erland Rothenberger, deceased, William Rothenberger, also deceased, and James Shilling.
Carl Eiche, former senior editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, was in charge of the Master Farmer program until his retirement in 1994. He visited Ward and talked with him many times, and considered him one of the innovators of his time.
All of his innovation wasn’t on the farm. Most Master Farmers also provide service to their community and state, and Ward was no exception. One of the things he will always be remembered for is his service to Purdue Ag Alumni. He was a retired ag alumni board member, called a board member emeritus, believed to have served longer than anyone except Dave Pfendler, a Purdue icon.
Ward is credited with having the idea to start the Ag Alumni Trust Fund. A former president of ag alumni, he traveled the country for years when Mauri Williamson, the colorful Wayne County native, was executive director. Later, he served equally as hard for Donya Lester, who replaced Mauri as executive director of Purdue Ag Alumni.
Ward’s dedication and service to many facets of agriculture will be missed.