John Pagel, a devoted dairy farmer and a pioneer in the dairy industry, died in a plane crash on Feb. 22, 2018. He was 58.
Born on Feb. 28, 1959, Pagel attended Kewaunee High School. In 1978, he took over the family farm and spent the next 40 years building Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy into the largest single family-owned dairy in Wisconsin. His vision and entrepreneurial spirit led to the creation of an on-farm cheese plant and farm-to-table restaurant, and he inspired others in the industry to try new approaches.
Pagel was tireless in his efforts on behalf of the dairy industry and Wisconsin agriculture. He helped found the Dairy Business Association, served as president of the Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative and was on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s board of directors.
Pagel earned an Honorary Recognition Award from CALS in 2011; the award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to their professions, their communities and the university.
He was an active participant in the UW Discovery Farms Program, a public/private partnership that seeks solutions to environmental challenges faced by Wisconsin dairy farms. He was a key player in the design and construction of the new dairy research facility at the UW–Madison’s Arlington Agricultural Research Station. He supported UW-Extension programs by hosting employee training workshops and farm tours and participating in on-farm trials. Pagel was also active in his community; he served on the Kewaunee School Board and was involved in the Kewaunee Chamber of Commerce and the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation. The Pagel family hosted the annual WALSAA Farm Technology Days picnic at their farm in July 2017.
To learn more about Pagel’s life, read his full obituary on the Green Bay Press-Gazette website.