LIVESTOCK MARKETEERS HONOR JIM BIRDWELL AND WILLARD WOLF
Marketeers — an
informal fraternity of livestock fieldmen, auctioneers, sale managers and related
livestock business leaders — held their 42th annual banquet in conjunction
with the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO, on Jan. 13, 2007.
This year's honorees for the Livestock Marketeers "Hall of Fame" are
auctioneer Jim Birdwell, Fletcher, OK, and livestock marketer and former American
Hereford Association field representative Willard Wolf, Valleyford, WA.
Auctioneer Jim Birdwell grew up in Southwestern Oklahoma, on a small livestock
operation near Fletcher. After graduating from Fletcher High School in 1963,
Birdwell entered Oklahoma State University majoring in agriculture education.
He was a member of OSU's junior and senior livestock judging teams, earning
awards as High Individual in beef cattle judging at the American Royal and
High Individual in sheep judging at Fort Worth.
Following graduation in 1967 with a B.S. in agriculture education, Birdwell
taught vo ag in Union City, OK, from 1967 through 1971.
The American Polled Hereford Association hired him as an area coordinator
on Jan. 1, 1972, and put him to work traveling throughout Oklahoma and Kansas.
Birdwell left APHA in 1975 to enter the sales management business with National
Cattle Services. In July 1978, Birdwell made the next step forward in his livestock
marketing career and became a full-time auctioneer.
Birdwell has sold livestock sales across the U.S. and in Canada, including
all purebred livestock breeds, Quarter Horses and, mostly recently, Standardbred
horse sales in Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
He's been married to his wife, Jeanne, since 1969. She's a retired elementary
school teacher and they have two children and four grandchildren. The Birdwells
have a small ranching operation in Fletcher, raising registered Polled Herefords,
Angus and Quarter Horses.
"I'm looking forward to many more years in the greatest business I could
ask for — the purebred livestock auction business," Birdwell said.
Willard Wolf is a born and bred Hereford man, raised on a 300-head commercial
Hereford cow-calf operation in Oklahoma that also included a wheat pasture
program running 1,000 to 1,500 steers.
Wolf was a high school honor student at Elgin, OK, where he was named outstanding
agricultural student and earned the Master Farmer's Degree. Along the way,
he showed several champion steers and lambs at major shows in Oklahoma and
He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.S. degree in animal science
and a minor in business law. While at college, he was a member of the Dean's
Honor Roll and active in Block and Bridle Club, judging team, rodeo team and
the Alpha Zeta honorary Scholastic fraternity. Wolf also found time to work
for the Oklahoma Commission Co., buying and selling feeder and fat cattle on
the Oklahoma City
Wolf graduated in 1963 and was hired by USDA as a livestock market news reporter
working in Oklahoma City, San Francisco and Spokane, WA. He was transferred
to Washington, DC, in 1965 to do the National Cattle Slaughter estimate and
coordinate the national market news information for the cattle industry. In
1966, Wolf accepted a
position with the Foreign Agricultural Service and a private company exporting
cattle, sheep, hogs and horses to foreign countries. During his tenure there,
he exported over 5,000 head of Hereford cattle to Spain, Mexico, Portugal and
In 1968, Wolf was hired as a field representative for the American Hereford
Association and moved to the Northwest territory. For more than 30 years, Wolf
assisted Hereford breeders with their buying and selling needs, as well as
conducting research projects and breed promotion. He developed several special
events, including the first International Satellite Sale, selling cattle throughout
the U.S. and
to Mexico, Australia and Canada. The "Ladies of the Lobby" Sale sold
Hereford cattle in major hotel lobbies in Spokane, WA; the "Ladies of
the Board Walk" Sale was held from a barge and a floating stage
on Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene. Wolf added special promotion to these events
by flying heifers to the sale site by helicopter and through delivery via limousine.
Wolf bought over $12 million in Hereford bulls and females for ranchers who
could not attend sales for 33 years with the American Hereford Association.
He also served several hundred commercial cattlemen in their seedstock needs,
as well as in marketing their replacement heifers and steers. Along the way,
he mentored many young people and spent considerable time with junior Hereford
The biggest and best event in the West — The Western Nugget Show and
Sale held in Reno, NV — was a highlight. Wolf directed and chaired "The
Nugget" and developed many of the changes that made this the second largest
Hereford event in the U.S.
Wolf was very involved in the development of the Certified Hereford Beef program
and shipped several thousand head of feeder cattle to feedlots in the Midwest,
as well as setting up the Yokes stores in Spokane for use of CHB.
After 33 years with the American Hereford Association, Willard Wolf retired
but did not leave the Hereford cattle and people. He still purchases bulls
and females for commercial cattlemen and ships thousands of feeder cattle to
feedlots for the CHB program, to the tune of over $10 million in the past four
"What's made him so good is that he really knows every aspect of this
business," said Lovell Kuykendall, retired from the American Hereford
Association. "His biggest attribute was his work and camaraderie with
the commercial cattleman."
"He has a knack for asking the right questions," agreed auctioneer
C.D. "Butch" Booker. "He'd make a bond with people and give
them his word, and they trusted him."
A tribute to Stanley Stout
In addition to the traditional roast of Hall of Fame honorees, the Livestock
Marketeers added a special memorial tribute to auctioneer Stanley Stout to
this year's banquet. Stout, a long-time leader of the Livestock Marketeers,
died in April 2006. In his honor, fellow Marketeer Gary McDonald, Franktown,
CO, compiled an extensive list of Stout's work at the National Western
Stock Show and sales over more than 30 years. A plaque featuring a picture
of Stanley Stout and listing those accomplishments (approximately $38,000,000
in sales) was presented to Pat Grant of the NWSS, to be hung in a place of
honor in the National Western Club.