Arlen James Sawyer: 1953-2019

Arlen James Sawyer, was born Jan. 30, 1953 in Madison, S.D. to Richard James and Dorothy Elizabeth (Cherrey) Sawyer. He was raised on his family’s Angus farm near Howard, S.D. Arlen graduated from Howard High School in 1971. He was a 4-H member and a member of the South Dakota 4-H Livestock Judging Team in 1971 that competed at the national 4-H judging contest in Chicago. He chose a major of agricultural economics with a minor in animal science at South Dakota State University (SDSU) and graduated in 1975. During his college years he was active in Block and Bridle Club, Rodeo Club, Little International, and was a member of the SDSU 1974-1975 Livestock Judging Team, one of South Dakota State’s most successful livestock judging teams coached by Dr. Dan Gee.

After college graduation Arlen married his college sweetheart Rebecca (Becky) Ann Schumacher of Cresco, Iowa, on June 7, 1975. He went to work as a herdsman for Cottonwood Angus Farm of Pipestone, Minnesota, that same summer. In December 1976 Arlen accepted the manager position of K Plus Angus Ranch near Bassett, Nebraska. Arlen oversaw the day to day ranch management of 700 registered cows and fitted and showed pens and carloads of bulls at the National Western. He instituted an extensive AI program and did some of the first on-the-ranch embryo transplanting done anywhere in the U.S. Before the dispersion of the herd in 1983, Arlen helped conduct six bull sales and three female sales.

In 1982, Arlen and Becky purchased a small ranch in Rock County, Nebraska, seven miles south of Bassett. In 1984, Arlen became associated with Premier Angus and Silver Plume Angus as they initiated the Profit Maker Bull program. A Premier cow herd of 350 females and a Silver Plume herd of 100 females were maintained by the Sawyers until the fall of 1990. In cooperation with the bull merchandising program, six Profit Maker Bull Sales were held in Bassett.

From 1984 to 1990 Arlen and Becky purchased more ranch land in Rock County, Nebraska and expanded their own cow herd while maintaining the Premier and Silver Plume cows. In the fall of 1990, Arlen and Becky established “A & B Cattle” with a foundation herd of cows developed from the original Sawyer herd in South Dakota and other females developed during the K Plus and Profit Maker years.

A & B Cattle was recognized as a Historic Angus herd in 1995, on the 75th Anniversary of the Sawyer family continuously raising registered Angus cattle. Over the years, Arlen judged numerous regional and national livestock events including the Western National Angus Futurity, All-American Angus Futurity, Ft. Worth Livestock Show ROV Angus Show, American Royal ROV Angus Show, Atlantic National and the NILE ROV Angus Show as well as other breed events at the National Western and North American. One of his most memorable judging experiences was at the 1995 South Dakota Angus Association’s state show and sale at Watertown, S.D. where the association was celebrating its 50th anniversary and honored the Sawyer family for being one of the founding families of the South Dakota Angus Association. He attended the event with his mother.

For many years Arlen enjoyed exhibiting cattle at the American Royal, All-American Angus Futurity, Western National Angus Futurity, and the National Western. As a long-time exhibitor in the “yards” in Denver, A & B Cattle exhibited the reserve grand champion pen of bulls in 1992 and 2002.

Arlen was a member of the Nebraska Angus Association, Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, and the Sandhill Cattlemen’s Association. He is a past president of the Nebraska Angus Association and the Area II Region of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association. He has served on the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic Board of Directors and on the Beef Advisory Council to the Black Hills Stock Show. He and Becky have served as advisors to the Nebraska Junior Angus Association. Locally, he has served as a two-term president of the Bassett Country Club and is an active member of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Bassett, where he served as president of the Parish Council. He was also a card-carrying member of the United States Team Roping Championships and Nebraska State Rodeo Association.

Arlen was very proud to have been elected as a six year member of the American Angus Association board of directors from 2008 – 2014. He served as chairman of the board for Certified Angus Beef in 2012. He was also chairman of the breed improvement committee of the association and served on the boards of Angus Genetics, Inc. and Angus Foundation, Inc. In 2012 he was recognized as the Nebraska Angus Association’s Producer of the Year.

Arlen is survived by his wife of 44 years, Becky; daughter Jessica Ann Sawyer of Kearney; son and daughter-in-law Adam and Jenessa Sawyer and grandson Augustus Sawyer all of Bassett; brothers Darrell and wife Karla of Rapid City, S.D. and Merlin and wife Leann of Brandon, S.D.; sisters Connie Stief of Sioux Falls, S.D. and Darla and husband Jose Espitia of Round Rock, TX; Aunt Betty McAdaragh, Brookings, SD; seven nieces and six nephews; mother-in-law Irma Schumacher of Ames, IA; sister-in-laws Mitzi Schumacher of Lexington, KY and Johanna Schumacher of Ames, IA; and brother-in-law Mark Schumacher and wife Susan of Wolsey, S.D. He was preceded in death by his parents Richard and Dorothy Sawyer; brother-in-law Jerry Stief; grandparents Howard and Elizabeth Sawyer and Bert and Emma Cherrey; and father-in-law George Schumacher.

Funeral Services were held at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Bassett, Nebraska with Father Michael Wetovick, Father Bob Krantz and Father Michael Stec serving as Celebrants. Music was provided by Jessica Sawyer and Michelle Sawyer, Mel Coffman and Dan Carson, and Trudy Nolles. Lectors were Leann Sawyer, Karla Sawyer, and Darrell Sawyer. Pallbearers were Dennis Taylor, Jarold Callahan, Gary Malmberg, Leo McDonnell, Dan Dailey, Vern Suhn, Terry Graff, and Mike Coffman. Honorary bearers were Fellow Angus Breeders & Cattlemen, and The Guys at Charlie’s Roping Barn. Burial followed at the Thurman Cemetery near Bassett. Hoch Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorials have been suggested to the National Junior Angus Association, the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association or to the family in his name for other designations.

In lieu of flowers, the memorials are suggested to the National Junior Angus Association, the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association, or to the family in his name for other designations.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User