2009 Pioneer Award Winner is Norm Strohfus
The Minnesota Horse Council announces the 2009 Pioneer Horseman Award. The Award is designed to honor those individuals from the past years whose expertise and contributions made long-lasting positive changes in the equine industry.
The 2009 Recipient is Norm Strohfus of Hastings, MN. Norm grew up on a cattle operation in South Dakota. As the youngest of 5 when it came time to make a career decision, his older siblings had the farm under good management and Norm decided to head to the city and get a college education. As a farm kid, he knew that you started mucking stalls if you wanted to learn about the critters, so he followed his farm training, and after college he began driving route trucks for the Coca-Cola Company learning about customers and their needs. When Norm retired at age 57, he was Vice-President of Operational Development for the Coca-Cola Enterprises. Norm traveled the world facilitating technology transfer and optimizing many operations within Coca-Cola. Obviously, his willingness to start at the bottom and learn the basics paid off well in his career with Coca-Cola.
Norm was involved in showing Quarter Horses for 35 years. He participated in the local show circuit, county fair and in the Quarter Horse show circuit. He bought good horses, showed them and generally sold them locally. Many of his neighbors went on to win on Norm’s good horses.
One of Norm’s last horses was purchased by a young lady from Oklahoma. She went on to win big time in the Palomino Show Circuit. A few months before his death, Norm attended the World Palomino Show in Oklahoma City. He hauled his pleasure horse down even though he was too sick to show, but he received great pleasure in watching the young lady show his former champion and another good friend showed his current champion. He loved good horses. He loved good people but it took real effort to work side by side with Norm. He had a work ethic that was second to none.
He is so well remembered in the Trail Riders Saddle Club, that at their show this past July 4th, they held a Norm Strohfus Tribute Class – judged as a Pleasure horse and Western Horsemanship class. There were not just 17 entries but 17 Yellow Palomino entries! Norm loved his Palomino horses. The Trail Riders Saddle Club raised over $3600 this summer for the Kidney Cancer Association in honor of Norm Strohfus.
There are few people in the American Quarter Horse and American Saddlebred world that weren't acquainted with Norm Strohfus. He was one of the nicest men you could have ever have hoped to know.
For many of us Norm was a fixture on the rail at the Saddlebred shows cheering on his wife, Mary. He was a familiar face behind the lines of his draft horse team, ‘Dixie’ & ‘Dolly’ at the Washington County Fair and other horse events, giving wagon rides and introducing new comers to horses.
Norm could be found at the Washington County Fair each year in early August giving carriage rides to the judges at the beginning of each show for their introduction. He was committed to each exhibitor and barn and made every effort to ensure that everyone had an enjoyable time showing their horses. No request was to small; from surveying ring footing to making sure a garbage can was emptied. His dedication to the MN Horse industry and to people’s individual horse experiences were evident in the projects and causes he campaigned.
Norm left behind a family and many, many friends who cherish the time spent with him. Norm passed away December 2008 after a 3-1/2 year battle with kidney cancer. His wife, Mary Strohfus, still operates Strohfus Stock Farm in Hastings, MN in much the same way Norm would have done it if he were here today.