Obituary: DARRELL PIDGEON
April 21, 1939 – June 24, 2022
A sixty-one-year romance ended when Darrell Wilson Pidgeon, 83, of Parker, Colorado, passed away June 24, at The Denver Hospice. Darrell was the husband the former Ann Lage. Eldridge, Iowa. The couple met in a cattle barn when both were showing at the 1961 National Dairy Cattle Congress, in Waterloo, when Ann was a senior in high school.
Darrell was born to Leonard Wilson Pidgeon and Thelma Gumley Pidgeon in Wilmington, Ohio.
Darrell parlayed two Guernsey heifers purchased when he was a 10-year-old 4-H boy into a lifetime career in the dairy cattle industry. After graduating from Wilmington High School, where he played baritone horn in the marching band, he received BS in Dairy Science from The Ohio State University. Darrell paid his way through OSU traveling across the country –- often by boxcar -– working as a cattle fitter and showman.
Darrell’s keen eye for good cattle translated to his winning the national collegiate dairy judging contest as a member of the OSU dairy judging team in 1964 and receiving the Dairy Shrine Kildee Scholarship for graduate study which he used to obtain a master’s degree in Dairy Genetics from the University of Missouri. Upon graduation he joined American Breeder’s Service, DeForrest, Wisconsin as a young-sire analyst.
Darrell and Ann were married September 27, 1969, at First Presbyterian Church, in Davenport, Iowa, and spent part of their honeymoon riding in a boxcar with nine Holstein heifers from Elkhorn, Wisconsin to the Western National Holstein Show in San Francisco. The couple moved to Colorado in 1970 –-never expecting to still be there fifty years later — when Darrell became a partner and herd manager at Paclamar Farms, Louisville.
Darrell was introduced to the cattle export business when the Paclamar herd was sold to an Italian businessman, and he rode in the plane with the cows when they were flown from Denver to Rome. For the next twenty-five years, Darrell pioneered a global movement of dairy animals to countries with great need to improve their dairy herds and milk production. Working with Dave Bachman, Sheyboygan Falls, WI, he arranged the export of U.S. Holstein heifers to Eastern Europe when trade was just opening with those Communist countries. Darrell vividly recalled that armed soldiers met the cattle planes when they landed in Budapest, Hungary, and intently watched him and the plane until the American cattle were unloaded.
Darrell had a ground-breaking opportunity with the Inter-American Development Bank in l977, when the bank launched Prodel, an ambitious project to provide a more wholesome and stable milk supply to Mexico City. Darrell traveled with Prodel officials and Mexican dairymen to select 24,000 bred heifers from the U.S. and Canada, opening new markets for high-quality grade North American heifers. Darrell and Ann returned to Colorado in 1980 and formed their own export entity, Pidgeon Cattle Co., focusing on exportation of live Registered Holsteins to the Asian market.
In September 2021, Darrell was recognized by the National Dairy Shrine as a Dairy Pioneer for his entrepreneurial work in the dairy cattle export business that helped open and develop markets for U.S. Holstein cattle around the world. The Missouri Hall of Dairy Honors recognized Darrell for his Meritorious Service to the dairy industry in January 2022.
Services for Darrell will be 11 a.m., July 9, at United Church of Christ Parker Hilltop, Parker, Per Colorado, followed by a celebration of life at the Pidgeon home. Per Darrell’s wishes cremation occurred. His remains will be spread at the Pidgeon homestead where Darrell grew up.
Darrell is survived by his wife, daughter Marla and her partner Amy Hagerman, Denver; son Andrew and his wife Kelly and their two sons Graham 10 and Brady 7, McLean, Virginia; his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Richard and Jane McCurdy, Goodyear, Arizona; Dean and Karen Potratz, Pewaukee, Wisconsin; and Janie Pidgeon, Wilmington; nephews John Potratz, Brooklyn, New York; Daniel Potratz, Waukesha, Wisconsin; and Kyle Pidgeon, Wilmington.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother Phillip Pidgeon, all of Wilmington.
Memorials can be made to National Dairy Shrine, Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin; United Church of Christ Parker Hilltop, Parker, Colorado; The Denver Hospice, Denver, Colorado; or the Junior Dairy Show at the Colorado State Fair, Pueblo, Colorado.