News submitted by the Holstein Association USA:
Horace Backus of Mexico last week received the 2013 Distinguished Leadership award at the Holstein Association USA convention in Indianapolis.
This award is given
annually to an individual who has provided outstanding and unselfish leadership
to the Holstein Association, or dairy industry as a whole.
Often dubbed “the dean of pedigrees,” Backus
is widely known and respected across the country for his knowledge
of Holstein genetics and lifetime of experience in the dairy sales arena.
He began working in his father’s Backus Pedigree Office at age 15, and
grew his experience until he stepped into the box as a pedigree reader
for the first time 10 years later, filling in for his father, R. Austin
Backus, who had fallen ill.
Following his father’s retirement, Horace
and his brothers formed a company to continue the sale and pedigree business
with the same values and integrity their father had instilled in them.
The business was sold in 1983, and Horace continued, as he does today,
as a freelance pedigree reader. In total, he estimates he has read pedigrees
at more than 3,000 sales and assisted with the preparation of more than 5,000 catalogs,
each sale receiving the same special care and attention as the one before
Backus is also respected as an author, having
written several books throughout the years, telling the story of many prolific
breeding operations, and providing his personal insights on the Holstein
industry. His home office is a treasure trove of Holstein memorabilia and each item is carefully catalogued to maintain the history of the breed by preserving important pieces of breed history which might
have otherwise been lost.
Horace and his wife of 61 years, Doris Anne,
have three children, Harry, John and Kim. A natural leader, Backus has
never shied away from becoming more involved with the organizations and
causes he is passionate about.
Backus has served as an elder and Sunday school
superintendent at the Mexico Presbyterian Church and was a Mexico school board member for 10 years (five as president). He was elected to the Holstein Association USA board of directors
in 1987, a seat which he held until 1995, and has also been involved with
the association’s audit committee, and served as a delegate for New York
for several years.
His extensive service and lifetime dedication
to the industry has not gone unnoticed, and Backus has been honored numerous
times over the course of his career, including being named World Dairy
Expo’s 2010 Industry Person of the Year, and being inducted as an honorary
member of the Klussendorf Association in 2003.
This year, he was the first-ever
recipient of the Pennsylvania Holstein Association’s Distinguished Supporter
Former HolsteinWorld publisher Joel Hastings summed up the way many
view Backus by saying, “A case can be made that Horace Backus, more than
any other single individual, has contributed to the growth in value of
Registered Holsteins throughout his career as a sales manager, pedigree
expert, association leader and adviser to hundreds in the industry. He
is the epitome of all that is positive in our business, knowledge, respect
and enthusiasm, with unwavering integrity in every single instance.”