WHA Hall of Fame

Kermit and Jana Rhiner, of Rhiner Polled Herefords, Poynette, WI were the Hall of Fame Award recipients at the 2022 WHA Annual Meeting.

Kermit and Jana Rhiner, of Rhiner Polled Herefords, and Family: Sheena, Ryan, Bristol, Reagan, & Ben Ringelstetter, of SMR Polled Herefords

Kermit and Jana Rhiner receive their WHA Hall of Fame award from WHA Board Member Dave Steinhoff.

4-H project that got out of control, isn't that how it starts most of the time? Kermit's 4-H journey started with steers, Chester White hogs, and the family dog at the county fair. After attending the UW Farm Short Course, he married his high school sweetheart. While Kermit worked on the family dairy farm, Jana started working at the local bank. Once their daughter Sheena was born, Kermit knew he wanted her to grow up in 4-H as well.

Rhiner Polled Herefords started in October 1995 with a heifer purchased from the late Dennis Geffert. Almost every year as a family, they took the scenic drive up to Reedsburg and bought the next years' project. They also attended numerous other sales and purchased animals from many farms in the WHA.

Every year the Rhiners attended Lodi Ag Fair, Columbia County Fair, State Fair, and Beef Expo. A couple of Jr. Nationals were also attended during Sheena's junior career. The Rhiners racked up numerous champions during Sheena's junior career including Champion Jackpot Steer at State Fair, Champion Jr heifer at WSF, and the first Hereford to win the carcass contest at State Fair.

With only 1 child, time in the junior project went too fast for Kermit. He still wanted to be involved helping the beef youth of WI while he impatiently waits for his 3 grandchildren to be old enough to show in the junior shows. At many shows, you'll see Kermit helping with check-ins, lending a hand to fit, or being ringman. Another favorite is lending a hand and helping at Kegley's Supply trailer. If it's Jr National time in WI, you can bet he's part of the grounds crew. Or if you attend the World Beef Expo, you know who helped put the bark in your stalls.

Volunteering is a great joy for Kermit. He's been named the Friend of the Jr. Hereford Assn in 2006, Columbia County 4-H Volunteer of the year in 2006, 2016 WSF Herdsmanship Award winner, and most recently named Friend of the World Beef Expo in 2021.

When not helping at a show, you'll catch Kermit working in the barn, in the field, or giving tractor rides to his tractor obsessed grandson, Ben. After years of working at Arlington Hardware as a plumber, he found the perfect fit of working for the Village of Poynette. He's now only 2 minutes from the barn to check on the show calves or cows during calving season.

With Kermit and Sheena gone to shows, someone had to stay back and keep the farm running. Jana helped pack suitcases, food, and trailers to help get them on the road and off to the next show. Then she would stay home to watch the dog and the rest of the herd. She recently retired in February of 2021 from the Bank of Poynette. She now runs a pretty highly recommended Grandma camp, just ask her two granddaughters.

With only 1 more year to wait, Kermit is already planning on what this new round of junior showing will be. So the next generation of Rhiner Polled Herefords is about to start.

Hall of Fame Inductees:

Jerry and Maryann Huth, Oakfield- year 2016

Hall of Fame Inductees:

Harold & Connie Lietzau

Joe Starr, Harold Lietzau, and Connie Lietzau

In February of 1970, couple met on a blind date. They got married, eight months later on October 17th, 1970. I guess when this guy sees what he wants, he acts immediately. They moved to Sparta, WI in 1974. They have 3 children, Tammy, Troy and Taylor.

In July 1979, the couple moved to the current location in Sparta on Iband Avenue. In 1983, the first Polled Herefords were purchased, and Lietzau Polled Herefords officially began. Harold and Connie Lietzau have always been an active participant in the WI Hereford Association.

Tammy, Troy, and Taylor Lietzau grew up showing Herefords. The family has actively exhibited cattle at the local, county, state, and national level. Herefords are simply a part of life to the Lietzau family.

Harold and Connie have been blessed with many grandchildren. Kiera, Austin, Ty, Jaydon, Devon, Josie and Elliot. A special angel, Riley, watches over the entire Lietzau clan in heaven.

Their family has also been blessed with a daughter in law, Michele, son in law, Danny, and Taylor’s girlfriend Justine.

Throughout the years many great Hereford females have been displayed by Lietzau Polled Herefords. In 2000, KJ JPH Gemini was named Reserve Division Champion for Taylor. Taylors son, Ty showed LPH Ms. Durango 57Z (Gemini’s calf) to Reserve Division Champion at Junior National in Pennsylvania in 2016.

Lietzau Polled Herefords sells progeny through private treaty and consignment sales. Consignment sales include the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, SD, WI Hereford Assoc. Spring Sale and the Iowa Beef Expo in Des Moines, IA.

Connie and Harold have both been active in the community and give their time to many youth organizations. They are first in line to transport their grandchildren to various activities, and they can be found in the front row watching those grandkids show cattle, participate in 4H and FFA events, wrestling, football, basketball, and gymnastics.

Harold have been active on local town and county boards as well as numerous civic organization. He retired as a long time loan officer at the Union National Bank in Sparta, WI after 20 years in 2010.

Connie is a fantastic cook and is always willing to lend a hand, no matter what the project. Connie retired from the Sparta School District after 29 years in 2018.

At the fairs, you could always expect to find Connie on the wash rack. After the time on the wash rack, you could expect to see Connie and several women congregate in their stalls with Red Solo cups drinking tomato juice or at least that is what they tell me they were drinking. One year at the WI State fair, the local security guard frequented their stalls. He also could be seen with a Red Solo Cup in hand. He was very cooperative that year.

Like all great operations, you need to have a Director of Operations. Harold fills that position well. He can be seen giving direction to his children and grandchildren. I am not sure many of them listen to him but he still gives direction.

This past October, Harold and Connie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. And yes, Connie is somehow still putting up with Harold!

The Hereford breed has been part of the Lietzau family for many years and will continue with the next generation.

Please join us in congratulating your newest inductees into the Wisconsin Hereford Hall of fame – Connie and Harold Lietzau.

Hall of Fame Inductees:

Warren & Isabel Brown

In 1953, Warren and Isabel Brown each bought a Polled Hereford heifer at the Illinois State Sale in Princeton, Illinois. Neither had any experience with purebred Herefords but it did not deter them from starting a lifelong devotion to the Hereford breed and development of the Hereford industry in the dairy state of Wisconsin.

When they were married in 1941, it was the joining of two established families in the southeastern Wisconsin region. Warren was second generation running the W.W. Brown Nursery, established in 1901. Isabel descended from the McKerrow family who owned a 500-acre farm that was home to award-winning Oxford and Shropshire sheep and Guernsey cattle. Her father founded the Golden Guernsey Dairy Cooperative.

Shortly after they were married, Warren served aboard a destroyer escort in the North Atlantic during WWII. When he returned home, the Browns purchased an 80-acre farm to expand the nursery and start raising Shropshire and Suffolk sheep and, later, Polled Hereford cattle.

They chose Polled Herefords because of the breed’s reputation to have a good temperament. “We thought this was important because we had three children we knew would be working with them,” explained Isabel.

As the herd grew, the Browns began showing. “When we started, we got all of the pamphlets and read them,” Isabel noted. But the information wasn’t clear and they clipped the entire faces of the cattle for their first show. “It was very embarrassing. After that, we decided that whatever we could do to help other new breeders, we would,” said Isabel.

The WIB bloodline soon began winning championship banners throughout the Midwest and demand for Warren and Isabel’s cattle grew. Hereford buyers wanted high-performing, dependable seedstock from reputable breeders. WIB prefix cattle have sold to breeders across the nation (and Costa Rica) including Hawaii, Alabama, Texas, Michigan, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and other. Many buyers became long-time Hereford friends and repeat buyers.

The Browns helped to establish the WPHA and both have served as president; Isabel later served as Executive Secretary. They helped to start the junior association and were active with annual meetings, sales, shows and other events. In 1995 they were inducted in the WHA’s Hall of Fame which honors “breeders who have given unselfishly over a period of time for the benefit of the breed.”

In 1990, the Browns were awarded the Livestock Producer of the Year award by the Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Association. In 1996, the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Assn. named them Cattle Producer of the Year.

The Browns have also worked tirelessly in their local community: Isabel served as the General Leader and Warren as the Beef Leader for the Richmond 4-H club for nearly 20 years.

Warren served as the Hartland Village President, was a charter member of the Hartland Lions Club and served on the Waukesha County Farm Bureau board. Isabel taught the high school Sunday School class at the Congregational Church for eight years (growing it from two to thirty members.)

Isabel served as Beef Superintendent of the Waukesha County Fair and was a Fair Board member 12 years. Working with other volunteers, Isabel helped organize the fair’s first livestock auction and fundraising for the new beef barn. Recognizing her lifelong dedication to the fair, she was named Honorary Fair Marshall in 2003.

Isabel also served on the Arrowhead High School Board for 21 years and the Merton School Board for 12 years. In 2016, the Arrowhead School Board honored Isabel for her “signification contributions and years of service as a community leader.” One board member noted “She had a tremendous knowledge and dedication to the community. She always tried to determine what was in the best interest of the community.”

In December 2019, Isabel was inducted into the Sussex-Lisbon Historical Society’s Outstanding Women Hall of Fame.

Three Brown children were active in 4-H and the WJPHA. Herefords financed their college educations. Today Randy and Cindy Brown continue to run the home farm in Hartland; Bette and Paul Slayton own Slaytons’ BearDance, a 320-acre Hereford farm in Bedford, PA; Carolyn and Eric Erdman live in Silverton, Colorado.

Warren passed away in 2005 at the age of 87. Isabel, 98, remains active and still lives on the home farm.

WHA Hall of Fame Inductees

  • 2022 - Kermit and Jana Rhiner
  • 2021 - Harold and Connie Lietzau
  • 2020 — Ken and Sandy Pierce
  • 2018 — Jerry, Joyce, Fred and Lori Larson
  • 2017 — Steve and Jill Folkman
  • 2016 — Jerry and Maryann Huth
  • 2015 — The Butch Boettcher Family, Fairchild
  • 2014 — Joe and Amy Starr, Manawa
  • 2013 — In memory of Dave Simmons, Oconomowoc
  • 2012 — Gregg and Beth Wissner, Mukwonago
  • 2011 — Jim and MaryAnn Miller, Rio
  • 2010 — Terry & Dianne Kegley
  • 2009 — Bruce & Bonnie Clemence
  • 2008 — Ellis & Judy Kahn
  • 2007 — Jule & Janice Zipper
  • 2006 — John & Chris Oltman
  • 2006 — Dr. Tom & Sue Beckett
  • 2005 — Paul & Sylvia Baker
  • 2004 — Elaine & the late Jim Pierce
  • 2003 — Edwin & Borothy Sanftner
  • 2002 — Marv & Ruth Espenscheid
  • 2001 — Margaret & Emmett Langness
  • 2000 — Gary & Marilyn Reinke
  • 1999 — Marian & Gordon Merry
  • 1998 — Robert & Connie Schuett
  • 1997 — E. Darrell Shultis
  • 1996 — Roy Brenizer
  • 1995 — Warren & Isabel Brown
  • 1994 — John Craig
  • 1993 — Williard Allen
  • 1992 — William Hanley
  • 1991 — William Merry
  • 1991 — Orville Owens
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