Leon Vanderfeltz is widely recognized as a dairy leader and Holstein breeder. He was born in 1932 on the farm he and his family live. His parents were G.G. and Cecilia Vanderfeltz – dairy farmers and Holstein breeders. His father Garret (G.G.) was honored with the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors Pioneer Leadership Award in 1984. Leon grew up on the farm helping his father with the herd and farming operations – over 300 acres producing alfalfa hay and corn silage. He attended St. Peters High School, graduating in 1950. He was fullback on the football team and co-captain his senior year.
In December 1951 Leon and his childhood sweetheart Rita Mae DeBroeck, Jefferson City, were married. They lived in town but Leon continued to work with his father until 1957. He was in the grocery business from 1957 to about 1969. In 1968 his father died and Leon and his brother Robert bought the farm and herd from his mother. Leon and Rita Mae and their seven children – with the eight expected – moved to the farm. At first Robert and his uncle Virgil, who lives on the farm, worked full time with the children helping to operate the farm and herd. Virgil, through the years, has been a very dependable worker in caring for the herd.
About 1969, Leon sold his interest in the grocery business and went to full time being a dairy farmer. He immediately modernized the dairy set-up with a new free-stall barn, modern milking equipment, silos and calf barn. He also installed computer feeders. He modernized the farm home and enlarged it for his large family. The children took their turns milking and helping with the farm work. Each of the children showed their 4-H project cattle. Don, one of the sons, took first at the State show and all Missouri two year old. Each of the children won showmanship awards and had a grand champion or two in junior shows.
The Vanderfeltz herd built from eight foundation cows, DHIA testing since 1924, and the use of superior bulls was soundly managed by Leon’s father and his grandfather. Leon has built the herd to higher levels by continuous testing for production, the DHIR test since 1947 and official classification since 1941. The Progressive Breeder Award has been received for 14years. There were five “Excellents”, 22 “Very Good”, 31 “Good Plus” and 14 “Good” animals in the last official classification (1982). There are about 150 animals, all ages in the herd. The milking herd has a rolling herd average of 21,504 Ibs milk, 806 lbs, butterfat and 684 lbs of protein. From a type standpoint the BAA is 105.
Leon has always followed a rigid program of good herd management and disease control. Many strong cow families have been developed in the herd and are the “backbone”, plus the use of high TPI sires, of the Van Fel breeding program.
Leon has been, and continues to be, active in state and national dairy programs as well as local civic affairs. Some of his offices held include: President, Missouri Holstein Association1983-84; Vice President 1981- 82; President, Association Missouri Dairy Organizations (AMD0)1987-88; Member Organizing Committee Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors Foundation 1989; President, Northeast District Holstein Association; President Cole County DHIA for eight years; 4-H Club Leader and Member Cole County Fair Board 17 years; Farm Bureau Member and Member Southern National Board. He has long been active the Immaculate Conception Church of Jefferson City; Knights of Columbus; Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce, and Helias Booster Club, President and Honorary Member (1988).
Leon and Rita Mae have a family that any parent can well be proud of. Eight children – five sons and three daughters – all strong and healthy – well educated – successful careers – all married except Mary, a beautician in Jefferson City who will be married 2-27-93.
The Vanderfeltz family is a splendid example of the fruits of hard work, industrious and progressive as dairy herd operators and farmers, but above all good citizens with the welfare of their fellow citizens foremost in mind.