City-raised kid to be inducted to Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame for legislative, cattle work
Although Webster was just a city kid from Greeley, Colo., he remembers his father — who was a distinguished doctor — driving him to his grandfather’s farms, which sporadically claimed areas of land from Ault to Platteville, Colo.
It’s was his grandfather that gave Webster the love of agriculture at a young age. Even though he didn’t grow up on a farm, he knew he wanted to own one.
So he did.
Webster formed Webster Land and Cattle Co. and Webster Feed Lots Inc. in 1961, founding the feeding of “flaked” corn and helping introduce computer technology to the cattle industry. The original 3,000 head capacity feedlot grew to what is now a 25,000 head capacity.
Although now retired, Webster made revolutionary improvements in the livestock industry, making his a household name in Weld County.
Because of these accomplishments — among many, many others — Webster will be inducted into the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame next year. He is one of four 2017 inductees to join 89 other respected Colorado agriculturists, who have been similarly honored since 1989. His portrait will be displayed in the Hall of Fame in Colorado State University CoBank Center for Agricultural Education, and inductees will attend a formal banquet ceremony in February.
Don Thorn, Executive Director for the Colorado FFA Foundation, said Webster was nominated and then chosen because he is a well-respected name in the agriculture industry — locally, statewide and nationally. He said Webster immersed himself in his work “above the standard call of duty,” and always strived for efficiency in his innovations for the cattle industry.
“(The award) is definitely a recognized, lifetime achievement award,” Thorn said.
Webster said his career took him all over the world and led him to meet some of the greatest people he’s ever known. That’s actually what he said his favorite part of working in the industry for more than 40 years was — the people he encountered.
“You meet some real characters,” he said with chuckle. “And you meet some really amazing, hard-working people.”
Aside from running a successful cattle company and feedlot, Webster served as Weld County Commissioner at Large from 1990-98, and served four years in the Colorado State Legislature from 1998-2001. He founded the Boys and Girls Club of Weld County, served as director of Safeway Stores, Inc. as the only agriculturalist, and was active in many agriculture-related and community-based organizations, like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Way of Weld County.
He also went back to school and achieved his bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in animal science at 81 years old.
He had some help from his wife of 63 years, Sylvia, who grew up on a farm outside of Eaton. She founded the North Colorado Medical Center Foundation and served on the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board of Education, among other boards.
She was excited about her husband’s award, crediting both of their hard work over their years in the industry. Everything he did, she was behind him, supporting him the entire way. She said their love for each other and the industry helped contribute to their success.
“We had a mutual interest in agriculture, which made us good soul mates,” she said. “It has been so much fun.”
Webster was humble about achieving the award, avoiding any self-recognition and instead, listing about 10 other great farmers and ranchers he knew in his lifetime. He said the true honor of the award didn’t kick in until his daughter, Perry Buck, showed up at his doorstep with tears of joy in her eyes.
He said he never sought recognition or praise for anything that he did. He just enjoyed doing it.
“I just thought anybody can feed cattle,” he said. “If you can work at it and can be successful at it, then you have the right to do it.” ❖