April 11, 2022 at 5:46 p.m.

A man with a lasting impact 

Tande passes away at 83, leaves behind a legacy in dairy
Larry Tande
Larry Tande

By Kate Rechtzigel- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

    OWATONNA, Minn. − On the morning of March 26, the dairy community lost 83-year-old Larry Tande to multiple myeloma.
    “He was quiet and soft spoken, but when he spoke, he spoke with immense depth,” Lori Read said of Tande.
    Read and her family milk 125 registered Brown Swiss cows near Austin. Read also nominated Tande for the Minnesota Purebred Dairy Cattle Association’s Distinguished Service Award which he received during the All-Breeds Convention March 11-12 in Willmar.
    Tande held many roles within the industry and also had 50 registered Holstein cows which were housed on Jerry Rypka’s farm near Owatonna.
    He was married for over 60 years to his wife, Carolyn. Their daughter, Tara, lives on the East Coast and works in the travel industry and their son, Thane, owns and operates a marina in Prior Lake.
    Over the years, Tande won numerous awards from being the top 4-H dairy project, representing the state at the 4-H club congress in Chicago, being inducted into the Steele County Livestock Hall of Fame, being inducted into the Minnesota Livestock Breeder’s Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Gopher Dairy Club’s Golden Graduate Award in 2010 and a number of other awards.
    “He was a Holstein breeder, but he was aware of Brown Swiss and other colored breeds,” Read said. “He knew all of them and respected them for what they were.”
    Tande was also an assistant county agent for Steele County in charge of the 4-H program; was a director of animal science programs for Minnesota 4-H; a regional director for extension; judged at local fairs, state fairs, World Dairy Expo and in foreign countries; was a state fair dairy cattle superintendent; was on the Minnesota Holstein Association Board of Directors; chaired the National Holstein Convention in 1989; and was president of the National Holstein Association.
    “He always helped to figure out what made people tick whether that was sheep or dairy,” Brad Rugg said. “It didn’t matter what it was as long as there was a something.”
    Rugg first met Tande as a teenager when he was showing dairy with Mower County 4-H and later went on to work as his 4-H summer assistant for Steele County in 1973. Rugg became the director of animal science programs for Minnesota 4-H shortly after Tande retired in 2001.
    “He was a mentor for me,” Rugg said. “He did things the way I wanted to do things. It’s not easy to manage major events or handle the rules and regulations involved in 4-H. Nobody did it better.”
    While he established himself in the industry, Tande kept his roots in the barn with his herd of registered cattle.
    “In 1999, I was milking on my own on John Bierbaum’s farm near Mantorville and (Tande) popped in the barn and asked if I wanted to be his herdsman,” Tracy Schaefer said. “I thought it was a great opportunity to work with a well-known person and some great cows, so I took it.”
    Schaefer handled the day-to-day management of the farm for three years until Tande retired from extension in 2001.
    “He helped to instill my passion for registered Holsteins and the Holstein association,” Schaefer said. “Without him, I wouldn’t be involved as much as I am today.”
    Schaefer now owns 30 cows which are housed on a farm in Ellsworth and started a new job as a classifier for Holstein USA April 5.
    Joe and Ev Stransky are dairy farmers from Owatonna and lifelong friends of Tande.
    “The first time I met Tande, he came out to look at my 4-H animals in the spring of 1962,” Joe Stransky said. “He somehow remembered I had bought my first registered animal in spring of 1961, so when he got there, he asked where she was. We went out to the pasture and found her, and he took one look at her and said, ‘You get a halter on this heifer and I want to see her at the fair.’ She was my 4-H state fair trip for the next four years.”
    Another lifelong friend was John Bierbaum who worked with Tande when planning the National Holstein Convention, as president of the Minnesota Holstein Association and on the National Holstein Association board.
    Bierbaum described Tande as a professional who was well organized and enthusiastic about the Holstein breed.
    “He had a dry sense of humor, and the more you got to know him, the more you appreciated it,” he said.
    Bierbaum’s favorite memory with Tande was being on the cover of the Minnesota Holstein Association’s news publication together.
    “We were leading our two favorite show cows at the state show in Hutchinson,” he said.
    Tande was most notable for his work with youth, especially those in dairy.
    “He liked working with young people and educating them,” Bierbaum said.
    Read agreed.
    “My son, Greg, was in the showmanship ring at the Mower County Fair, and he got second place all because he moved his cow’s feet with his feet. To this day, he still doesn’t use his feet and he’s 30 years old,” she said. “Tande was trying to teach him.”
    Read also said Tande had a great memory.
“He always remembered and asked about you and your kids, it didn’t matter who you were,” she said.
    Tande left a lasting impact on the Holstein breed, young people, adults and the dairy industry as a whole.
    “He taught me what it means to be a leader as an adult, and I have yet to figure out whether he was a father or brother figure,” Rugg said.
    Bierbaum agreed.
    “He will be remembered for his connections and friendships in the industry,” he said. “A lot of people enjoyed and relied on him.”


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