The Fayette County Agricultural Hall of Fame features many of the great agricultural minds, workers and entrepreneurs each year, and two more will be added during the induction ceremony on March 8.
A collaborative effort between the Fayette County Extension Office and area residents goes toward finding and honoring individuals in the county who have impacted the whole of the community. Whether through ideas or a long history of giving and teaching, the people inducted into the hall of fame embody Fayette County. This year two more residents, David B. Gerber and William B. Montgomery, have been selected to join the elite list.
The evening will begin with social time from 6:30 to 7 p.m., when dinner will begin. Tickets will be $20 and it will go toward the Fayette County Agricultural Hall of Fame non-profit. The event will be held in the Fine Arts Building on the Fayette County Fairgrounds.
Montgomery, who was nominated by John A. Peterson, was born at 623 E. Market St. in Washington Court House on June 20, 1927 to W. W. and Mae Montgomery. W. W. was the first OSU Agriculture Extension Agent in Fayette County and had purchased a farm, now named Montcrest Farms, on Snow Hill Road and moved his family there in 1934 because he thought the OSU Extension Service might close due to the depression. If he was going back to farming again, he wanted to farm here in flat, fertile Fayette County rather than where he grew up in Muskingum County.
Bart’s elementary education was at Conner and Staunton School in Concord Township. He graduated from Washington High School in 1945 as senior class president. After high school graduation, he combined farming and attending Ohio State University, College of Agriculture for several years. He graduated from OSU in 10 quarters (Summa Cum Laude) with dual majors in animal science and ag economics. While at OSU, he was a member of the 1949 OSU livestock judging team, and a member and president of the Alpha Gamma Sigma Fraternity.
In September 1950, he was one of the first draftees from Fayette County for service in the Korean War. While in the service he used his agriculture background and schooling as a food inspector (meat, eggs, dairy products, and fish) for the First Army Quartermaster Corp., stationed in New York City working in lower Manhattan for nearly two years. Bart returned to farming with his father after his discharge from the army in 1952. They purchased a 325-acre nearby farm in 1954 for $212.50 per acre.
In 1956, he married Laurel Ford, daughter of the first Highland County OSU Extension Agent. Laurel was an OSU graduate and an elementary school teacher in Upper Arlington, Ohio. They had a son, Keith, born in 1958 and a daughter, Jan, born in 1960. Laurel died in 2015 after a courageous battle with cancer. During these early farming days, Bart was active in the Fayette County Farm Bureau, the Fayette County Landmark Co-op Association, Seldon Grange, the Producers Livestock Association, plus being a 4-H livestock club advisor for 25 years.
In December 2014 at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting, he was awarded the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award. During all these activities, Bart and Laurel have traveled to every state in the Union, plus many European and Asian countries.
Gerber, who was nominated by Pat Brinkman, worked as a swine specialist from 1965 until 1995 and impacted many areas of the industry. He created the role of swine specialist in 1965, impacted swine production through enterprise business plan development, reproduction, nutrition, health, facilities and management and scheduling, and helped farm building construction through design, ventilation, concrete and insulation.
Gerber served in environment risk management where he was a certified assessor for the pollution control of lagoons and odor, building, mortality composting. He has impacted television, radio, public relations, display development, and written technical papers.
He served as county Extension Agent from 1955 until 1965. At that time he heavily emphasized livestock (swine, beef) structures. He also dealt in agronomics for plants such as corn, soybeans, sugar beets, tomatoes and small grains. At the Ohio State Fair, he was a Junior Swine Show Superintendent for 17 years, has judged agronomic crops and garden classes and has won a number of awards for melons, beans, pumpkins and squash.
The nominee also had many other life accomplishments. He developed “Pork Profits TV” with WOSU-TV and WBGU-TV for pork producers/consumers and videos for 4-H club members: Fitting-Showing and Care of Pig Projects. His military service includes U.S. Army (1953-1955) in Anti-aircraft Artillery Air Defense, Battalion Staff-Intelligence and Assistant Operation, Training Officer and he was honorably discharged as First Lieutenant. He is a Boy Scout Scoutmaster, a Washington Shrine Club member and also attends the First Presbyterian Church.
The information for this story was obtained by Fayette County Agricultural Hall of Fame organizers.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy