My Grandpa Alvin: A legacy of faith, family & farming

BEEF Daily blogger Amanda Radke pays tribute to her hero in the cattle business, her grandpa, Alvin Nolz.

Amanda Radke

October 8, 2019

5 Min Read
Linda McEntee

Tyler and I were married on Oct. 8, 2010. It was a beautiful day surrounded by family and friends. The sun was shining, and it was an unusually warm fall day at 85℉. We enjoyed grilled steak tips with all of the fixings and danced the night away.

This year, our anniversary will be spent a little differently than I anticipated. On Oct. 8, we will say goodbye to my grandfather, Alvin Nolz, as we celebrate his life and take him to his final resting place.

Despite the sadness of the day, it only seems fitting to celebrate this wonderful man today because I see so much of Alvin in my own husband, Tyler. Both kind, hard-working, humble, frugal, quiet, funny and passionate about land and livestock, I feel so blessed to share life with Tyler just like my Grandma Devona had with Alvin for 63 years.

It’s a bittersweet day for sure, but I’m confident Papa Alvin is smiling down on us today!

In recent weeks, my name and this blog has made the rounds on social media following my open letter to Ellen DeGeneres, and while I’m pleased to serve as an advocate for the beef industry, for me, this journey that I’m on as an “advocate” is much deeper than simply promoting beef demand and protecting our rights to farm.

For me, this is truly a generational tradition of caring for land and livestock, one that I’m deeply passionate about and something that’s grounded in my Christian upbringing.

Related:9 things to do as a family to build your ranch legacy

To understand my values, you need to understand where I come from, and much of who I am today is because of the man, my Grandpa was all his life.

My grandpa Alvin, founded our family’s business, NOLZ Limousin, with my dad, David, in 1982. Grandpa only had an eighth-grade education, but he was a scholar in everything agriculture. He was a voracious reader and was knowledgeable in everything from cattle breeding to seed varieties to world history and more.

One of my earliest childhood memories is being in the barn with Alvin and David during the spring calving season. Grandpa had a bottle calf, and he asked me to help give it milk every day. In turn, he said I could earn a heifer calf — the pick of his replacement heifers — so I dutifully helped raise that little red bull calf until he was big enough to wean. That bull eventually sold to one of our local customers, and I was proud to have helped with that task given to me (although I’m sure Dad did most of the work)

Anyway, I picked out a heifer — NOLZ Brianna 510C — and she became the foundation of my own growing Limousin herd of females. I took her first bull calf, Jack, to the Black Hills Stock Show, and cried when he sold to Wyoming and my young heart realized I wouldn’t see my buddy ever again.

Related:The generational operation: How one family makes it work

Nolz Limousin

But that’s truly when I fell in love with the cattle business, and it’s all thanks to my Grandpa Alvin.

Alvin taught his kids and grandkids how to work hard, care for the land and the livestock. He also taught us to be a steward of God’s bountiful harvest, to be disciplined, frugal and to know exactly who you are and what you’re made of.

When times get tough, Alvin taught us to be tougher, to play against the odds and to prove the naysayers wrong, which is exactly what he did in the farm that he built and the legacy he quietly and humbly created.

Grandpa’s namesake, my son, Thorne Alvin, dreams of being a farmer one day just like his Papa Alvin. I would be so proud if “Little Alvin” turned out to be just like him one day.

Beyond being a rancher, Alvin was a devoted family man and a Christian all the days of his life. And when it comes down to what my legacy will be one day, I don’t need my names in lights. I don’t care how many social media followers I have. I don’t need to have the fanciest trucks or the largest herd of cattle. I don’t need to travel the world or have the most stylish clothes or nicest house.
What I truly want to be remembered for is my own devotion to my family, and my faith in Jesus. That’s what made Grandpa who he is, and it’s by his strong example, that I will continue his legacy in that way

72636944_705348276617829_3140208215405363200_n.jpgSo when you read this blog, I hope you can see my love for not just the land and the livestock, but how my heart is shaped in Christian, family values. I know not everyone may feel the same way, but it’s such a huge part of what makes me who I am, and that’s what’s behind every post that I write.

I hope today, you’ll join me in sharing something positive about agriculture on social media.

Lead with kindness and a humble heart, just like my Grandpa Alvin would have.

We must continue to show the world that farmers and ranchers are much more than being efficient and producing nutritious food and life-enriching by-products. We in agriculture put our hearts and souls into providing for the world, and I’m confident that’s what our consumers will most connect with.

Thanks for letting me honor my grandfather today in the BEEF Daily blog. He was a great man and will be missed so much. I’m grateful to have known him, to have loved him and to have learned so much from him. Love you always, Grandpa Alvin!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

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