Building A Legacy
As printed in the Brown Swiss Bulletin June 2018 published by Purebred Publishing
He is a judge, a long-time breeder of All-Americans. Together they are national award winners, leaders, family oriented and sales team members. Lee Barber and his wife Luanne are creating a legacy of commitment within the dairy industry and on the Brown Swiss breed.
"They truly have a love for the Registered Brown Swiss breed and the Brown Swiss Association. Through their generous gifts of their time, talents, and other donations they have supported the Brown Swiss breed for many years. They have developed an outstanding herd of Registered Brown Swiss cattle. It has always been an entire family affair which continues on today with the next generation working alongside of ‘Grandpa & Grandma’," said Darrell and Cindy Worden.
Lee and Luanne established Lee Ann’s Swiss in DeWitt, Iowa, in 1962. It is very much a family operation. Elaine and Randy joined the operation in 1985 after graduating from Iowa State University. The Francks have three children with son, Brandon and his wife also part of the operation. Responsibilities are shared, but all pitch in as needed. Lee and Luanne care for the baby calves and young stock. Randy handles the majority of the milking with hired help on weekday mornings. Elaine, who helps with milkings in the evenings and weekends also works full-time at the county FSA office. Brandon is responsible for the daily mixing and feeding of the TMR. He works at the local feed mill as well. His wife, Demi is a teacher and fills in with calf feeding as needed. Randy and Elaine’s son, Ryan is a materials engineer who works at Arconic in Bettendorf and helps as needed, especially on the weekends. His wife, Allison is a chemical engineer who manages the chemistry lab and teaches a lab safety course at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. All four help with milking when needed or called upon. Randy and Elaine’s daughter, Amanda and her husband, Jordan Hunt and their daughter, Payton live near Dyersville and remain involved in Brown Swiss activities.
Lee and Luanne have two additional children, Maureen and Charlie. Maureen is married to Bob Hanson and, along with their six children, Natalie, Mitchell, Wesley, Gabriel, Olivia and Jillian, are all involved in showing Brown Swiss. Maureen is also actively handling the promotion of the National Convention and is an ag writer as well. Charlie and his wife, Jalane live in Florida with their children, Kari and Lee.
Lee Ann’s milk 90 head of Brown Swiss and one Red and White that Grandpa Lee bought to fulfill granddaughter Amanda’s wish. The Rolling Herd Average is 20,126M 867F and 757P. The herd is housed in a free stall barn with older cows and special-need animals in a bedded pack barn. They milk in a double-5 herringbone parlor. The Barbers farm 430 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa and also raise additional bottle calves that are later sold as dairy steers.
Lee got his start in Brown Swiss when he purchased his first animal at Howard Prather’s dispersal in 1958, Dell Valley Fifi Dancer. The small herd grew over the years as FFA and 4-H projects were further developed. Lee and Luanne were married in 1962 and rented their first farm in 1964. They purchased and moved to the present location in 1971.
Their first Reserve All-American was a Junior Yearling Bull, ES Stretch Billy, who was Junior Champion at the Central National in 1973. In 1979, Jean Billy Jenny was the All-American Four-Year-Old and Grand Champion at the Central National show.
Lee and Luanne have served in multiple capacities within their community as 4-H leaders and in the industry as DHIA board members. Lee has been a county fair board member for over 25 years. He has also served several terms as a National BSCBA board member and a two-time past president of the Brown Swiss Association. They are both active in the Iowa Brown Swiss Association and serve on several committees for the upcoming Iowa National Convention. Lee has chaired the state sale for numerous years and Luanne has served more than 20 years as the Iowa Brown Swiss Association Secretary.
Lee has made a name for himself with travels across the country serving the industry. He has judged at shows across the United States over the years. He has been on the sale crew of Modern Associates working with Wayne and Connie Sliker and their team for years taking bids, on the phone buying for breeders and helping select for sales as well as on the sales team for Brown Swiss Sales Services.
"Over the course of the years, Lee and I have worked hundreds of sales. We have traveled together in one vehicle thousands of miles. Discussion in that car included Registered Brown Swiss, our own herds, sires currently used, national and state Brown Swiss associations, our families, and current affairs. I remember about 10 years ago, during one of our discussions, I was getting pretty worked up about a topic when Lee paused for a moment and said: ‘it will work itself out, it always does.’ I have never forgotten that statement. Over the years, every so often it comes to mind," said Darrell.
The Barbers were honored in 2014 by the Iowa State Fair for 50 years of continuous exhibition. They also exhibited the Grand Champion and were Premier Breeder and Exhibitor of the fair that year, awards they have won numerous times. Now, 53 years later, their family reunion happens each year at the State Fair as all family members, cousins, and even some past employees and associates join in the fun of the annual Kiddee Kattle Kapers where dairy families dress up their youngsters and cattle in themed costumes to promote the dairy industry.
"Lee Barber has been a great supporter of the Brown Swiss breed during his entire career. We at Top Acres/Modern Associates have been privileged to know and work with Lee for over 40 years. He has worn many hats while serving the breed as president, director, judge, sale selector, ringman, etc. ...and most of all a straight forward friend to all. Lee's dedicated leadership over the years has been much appreciated by our breeders across the country," said Wayne Sliker.
Always an advocate for the dairy industry, Lee and Luanne Barber are passionate about family and the Brown Swiss cow!
We salute you Lee and Luanne for your years of service, dedication and friendship throughout the years and look forward to more as your family continues the legacy you have established!
Editor's note: It has been my privilege to have worked with Lee during his past tenure as President of the Associataion. His wisdom, thoughtfulness and passion for the breed is admired. He and Luanne have passed those traits on as evidenced by working with the family to promote this convention - Thank you Barbers for all you do!