LISBON, Ohio — The Columbiana County Agriculture Hall of Fame selection committee elected three individuals to the Class of 2014: Russell N. Cook, of Fairfield Township; James W. Cooper, of Hanover Township; and William L. Woolf, of West Township.
They bring the total number of members in the Hall of Fame to 61.
The trio were inducted during the Columbiana County Fair July 29. Honorees’ families were also recognized. The portraits of the previous inductees are permanently displayed in the Arts & Crafts Building.
Here’s a little bit more about the inductees:
James W. Cooper
James William Cooper, 1941-2007, devoted his entire life to dairy farming, raising crops, and his family. Born Oct. 19,1941, in Hanoverton, Cooper — the son of a dairy farmer who milked 20 head of Holsteins — began buying dairy heifer calves at 14.
Cooper was active in Farm Bureau and was a former member of the United Young Farmers and Dairy Farmers of America. In his early FFA years, he served as United FFA sentinel from 1955 to 1957, and received a Farm Mechanics Improvement Award in 1958.
A member of the first graduating class of United High School in 1959, Cooper married Carole Ritz in 1961. Two years later, he bought a 85-acre farm on Schneider Road, next to his father’s property. They started milking 85 to 90 Jersey and Holstein cows in a stanchion barn.
Over the next 30 years, the Coopers purchased 174 more acres, and, in 1989, built a double four milking parlor with 100 freestalls, then added a calf progression barn. Cooper Hollow Farms also produced various crops, including hay, wheat, corn, and sudex.
Cooper also worked for D.W. Dickey in Lisbon, Ohio, and drove school bus for United Local Schools to help keep the farm operating.
In 1993, Cooper received the Honorary Chapter Farmer Award from the United FFA for helping the FFA with crop production, as well as loaning the chapter planting and harvesting equipment.
Perhaps his most lasting contribution to the community came in 1994, when Cooper granted the Columbiana County Commissioners an easement onto his property to erect and maintain the pumping station serving the Winona and Guilford Lake area septic system.
James and Carole Cooper had three sons — James, Robert, and Douglas — and two daughters, Deborah and Pamela, along with 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren at the time of Cooper’s death on May 10, 2007.
The elder Cooper’s influence also impacted his sons’ friends.
“The Cooper house became my second home,” said Randall Mattevi, a friend of James Cooper Jr. since grade school. “It was remarkable to me how the family did everything together and Jim and Carole became like my second parents.”
Mattevi credits Cooper with getting him involved in 4-H, helping him with 4-H projects, and encouraging him to be a part of FFA in school.
“I think of Jim and what an incredible farmer and family man he was,” Mattevi said. “I thank him for taking me into his home and teaching me his love of farming.”
Russell N. Cook
Russell N. Cook, 1922-2010, devoted his life to service in his country and the agricultural community. He was a dairy farmer who made his life in Fairfield Township in Columbiana County.
Cook was born and raised in Fairfield Township. He grew up raising fruits and vegetables that his parents sold at a stand at the Pyatt Street Open Air Market in Youngstown.
It wasn’t long before Cook would be involved in grain farming. Cook and his brother, Orel, purchased a threshing machine and performed custom threshing in the area.
Cook purchased his farm, Midway-Crest, in the fall of 1946. He went on to work with the Ohio State University experimental research farm in Wooster and the Columbiana Soil and Water Conservation District for many years. Both helped him develop his farm to become productive.
He used the experimental farm to find out about commercial fertilizer and weed control sprays instead of cultivating. He was known for experimenting with different amounts per acre to see what would give his farm the most return for his investments.
Cook was also one of the first to use contour strips on his farm. The soil and water conservation district helped to lay out his fields in strips and develop sod waterways to prevent erosion.
He was also very open to getting the message out about agriculture. The Cook family hosted many farm tours over the years so that others could learn about crop rotation, contour farming and use of sod waterways.
An innovator in agriculture, Cook was the one of the first to build a bunker silo built below ground level with a solid structure and roof built over the top. He also one of the first in the area to have a metal milking parlor and a milk bulk tank.
His own farm work didn’t stop him from helping his neighbors out with custom work. He owned a Massey Harris self-propelled combine and a pull type corn picker and was always willing to help neighbors to get their crops harvested.
Cook started purchasing registered Holsteins around 1950, and breeding them for top milk production. He went on to sell top animals and local and state sales and shipped his cattle across the country and even the world.
Cook enjoyed showing Holsteins at the Columbiana County Fair and the Canfield Fair. He started to show at the county fair in 1957 and the Canfield Fair in 1967. Today, the Cook family continues to show at both fairs.
He prided himself on developing a productive herd of Holstein cattle. He routinely led the Dairy Herd Improvement Association list for his rolling averages. Cook’s herd led the DHIA list with his herd many times. He even set a record for setting the highest average production for five months in a row.
He was a member of the Columbiana-Mahoning County Holstein Club District II as well as the state and national Holstein associations. In addition, Cook was an active member in the Ohio Farm Bureau and the East Fairfield United Methodist Church.
Cook married his wife, Vera, in January 1943, before he left to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. Today, his son, Ron, and his wife, Linda, run the dairy farm that Cook built.
William L. Woolf
When West Township dairyman Bill Woolf, 1930-1996, lost his arm in a farming accident in December 1959, the Columbiana County farming community pitched in to help finish Woolf’s new milking parlor and to raise money to help defray his medical expenses. Woolf, who continued to farm with the attitude, “It could have been worse,” spent the rest of his life advocating on behalf of those farmers who helped him. His tireless leadership and far-reaching contributions were his way of repaying countless people.
Bill started farming in 1951, and he and his wife, the former Frances Hawk, settled on a 350-acre dairy farm near East Rochester. After his accident, he found ways to adapt running equipment and milking with only one arm, never missing a step. He continued to farm until he died in 1996, and two sons and their families continue to farm in Columbiana County today.
Along the way, Bill Woolf gave back to the community as a leader within the Ruritan club network, and served on the Columbiana County OSU Extension Advisory Council and the Columbiana County Planning Commission.
But his passion was working on farmers’ behalf through the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. He first participated in a local Farm Bureau advisory council and served on the county Farm Bureau board, then was elected as to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation state board of trustees, representing Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage and Stark counties. In that role, he was instrumental in public policy development for the state farm group, and raising issues of local farmers’ concerns to the state board.
In addition to his agricultural leadership, Bill Woolf emphasized the importance of giving back to your community. In a 1981 interview in the Ohio Farm Bureau publication, Buckeye Farm News, Woolf said, “If you have an accident, don’t let it interfere with your way of life. Continue as you were. The neighbors and community were good to us and life has been good to me and my family.”