I am writing this article with a heavy heart. We in the agricultural community have lost three very influential people here in Central New York. I was so honored and blessed to have worked with these people in my many capacities with Farm Bureau, Fair Association, the Oneida Co. Association of Towns and the Boonville Milk Co-op.

Hubert Pritchard

Hubert Andrew Pritchard, 81, of Westmoreland, passed away on July 6. He was active in the FFA at the school and state levels. He was the 1958/59 NYS FFA vice president. While he was a senior in high school, he milked the cows at his grandfather’s farm on Shed Road before school. Of course he did chores again after each school day too.

Upon his grandfather’s passing in 1958, he purchased the farm from his grandmother. Over the decades, he and his family modernized the farm and expanded it from 75 acres to over 800 acres. Even with the technological advances, chores are an everyday thing on a dairy farm. Hubert never complained about the amount of work. He loved the lifestyle that he had chosen. Even though there are new generations of Pritchards who do most of the work on today’s farm, Hubert was still working in the fields on a couple of his recent “good days” during April and May.

In addition to dedicating his time to his family and his farm, he served the Town of Westmoreland in various roles (including several terms as Town Supervisor) in a government career that covered more than 30 years. He was also a founding member and the first president of the Lowell Volunteer Fire Department, member of the Farm Credit Nominating Committee, the FSA governing board and Oneida Co. Farm Bureau and a longstanding producer-member of the Oneida-Madison Milk Co-op.

Geraldine “Gerry” H. Elthorp

Geraldine “Gerry” H. Elthorp of Frankfort, formerly of Schuyler, passed away very unexpectedly of natural causes on Aug. 19.

In 2009, Gerry became president of the NYS Association of Agricultural Fairs and had remained an active member of the association.

Gerry received a special appreciation plaque and several citations and proclamations from the NYS Assembly and NYS Senate on Aug. 15 at the opening ceremonies of the Herkimer Co. Fair for her 50 years of service and dedication to the fair. The awards stated that she served as a volunteer director of the Herkimer Co. Fair Association for the past 50 years and treasurer for the past 30 years, over which time she made significant contributions to the fair community. Her steadfast dedication to the Herkimer Co. Fair Association positively impacted the broader community, providing family fun traditions with events and activities at the fair that focused on agricultural and food production education.

She frequently attended rallies and legislative meetings in Albany for fair-related issues. Every fair in NYS has benefited from Gerry’s lobbying efforts.

James J Burback Jr.

James J. Burback Jr., 55, of Clockville Road, Canastota, passed away Sept. 2. Jimmy was currently employed with the New Hope View Farm LLC as a farmer and on his own farm, KAB Farms in Canastota. Jim and his brother Andy took delivery of one of the first tractors that then-young John and Becky Calidonna delivered. Jim did a video a few years ago, “Thank A Farmer,” featured the Big Frog 104 FM website.

Jim and Andy milked 450 dairy cows and raised a herd of beef cattle, farmed 1,200 acres of crops and in the last few years Jim worked at Cazenovia Equipment Co. as the service manager.

Most notable is that he followed his grandfather’s footsteps, as he was one of the original founders of the Oneida-Madison Milk Co-op. Jim was on the Board of Directors for many years before becoming the vice president for eight years. In 2014 he was elected as president and served in that capacity until his passing.

These are some very big shoes to fill. They left us all in the ag community with a great legacy to carry on to the next generation.

by Benjamin Simons