Let’s learn a little more about them…
While one is an Akron native, the other is not – but she’s been warmly adopted by the
hometown folks. Our honorees came into farming in two very different ways – while one
was born into a farming family up to his knees in Akron’s famous muck farms; the other
was born into an east coast family and eventually moved to Florida where their paths
first crossed, and they actually knew each other through early school years before
moving to a central Ohio farm.
Graduating from Hower Vocational High School in Akron with a diploma in auto
mechanics, he worked at Henry Motors Volkswagen for a short time, and he’s spent his
entire life living and working on the family farm.
Always ready to help others, his friendly nature keeps him in touch with other farmers
and friends. As his family likes to say, “He graduated from high school with a wrench in
one hand and bag of seed in the other.
He can fix ANYTHING. His cell phone is always ringing as his children and friends seek
his help.
He can also make anything grow through floods and droughts; he can bring a seedling
up and make it great! He sacrificed his time and energy every farming season to make
sure that the fields were watered and the bird bangers were turned on at the crack of
dawn.” During recent floods he was seen rowing a canoe through his soybean fields to
check on the crop – although, as a private pilot, he could just as well have done a fly-
She was born on Long Island, moved to New Jersey, then Florida where she graduated
from high school, then to Ohio when she was first married to a fellow who was a
schoolmate of our other honoree – and her honeymoon was driving to Ohio. That young
couple helped his father farm when they got married, making that full-time when his
dad died in 1969. She’s known to be willing to drive – or try to drive – almost any piece
of equipment, but her family says “she still really can’t back up anything!”
In fact, they call her “chief tractor and truck driver and designated line sitter” and say
that when they were really busy, she often made it only part of the way home before
she met a full truck, switched vehicles, and turned right back around for the elevator.
Notorious for her cat naps while waiting in line at the elevator, others didn’t mind
waking her up to move the line along because she made them homemade pies every
She worked for the Farm Service Agency in Marion and Delaware for a number of
years, and then moved to the Wayne County office when she married our other
honoree. She truly enjoys working with farmers and helping them navigate ALL the
required USDA paperwork.
Our honorees reconnected after her first husband passed away. She’d stayed in touch
with our other honoree’s parents over the years, and some things have a way of just
happening. She was a Marion County Farm Bureau member in the 1960s and was very
active with the “Springhill 66er’s” advisory council (Springhill was a one-room school
house and 66 was to remind them of the year their council started: 1966), and she’s
been a member of the Summit County Board since 2008 – and he’s been a member of
the Summit County Farm Bureau since January 1, 1970!
She learned a lot about vegetable farming in the last dozen years – and now that they
have 300 acres planted to soybeans. Now it’s his turn to learn about a new type of crop.
She’s quick to pitch in and help with every FB function she attends, whether she is on
the committee or not. Both have been very willing to speak up on behalf of small
farmers in the last few years, featured by stories in the Akron Beacon Journal and Farm
& Dairy.
While he has two daughters that have graced them with a slew of grandchildren that
love the farm and ride on the tractors and run through the corn stalks, they now both
get to spoil the first of their second-family grandchildren, her son having recently
blessed them with her first grandchild, Harlie Grace.
Distinguished Service Award Winners 2013
This year, we are privileged to do something we’ve only done a few times in the past:
we’re honoring not one, but two of our members with the
2013 Summit County Farm
Bureau Distinguished Service Award.
Don and Carrol Bessemer