Although the annual Ag Banquet was canceled, the Washtenaw Dairy and Livestock Council recently awarded its 2020 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award to Dale Heselschwerdt.
In the late 1950's, marketing livestock was rather limited to shipping to Detroit or Chicago. An auction operated in Jackson, but after closing due to financial difficulties, Dale’s father Orin saw a need for the area farmers. They purchased a building in Napoleon that was formerly a "Fur Farm" that raised rabbits. A quick add on of an office and loading docks turned the Snow White Fur Farm into Napoleon Livestock in 1956. Dale’s wife Pat actually started working at the Sale Barn as a waitress in the onsite lunch counter. The first auction had no roof over the arena and buyers sat on planks placed on cinder blocks. The business quickly grew and they added pens on the north, west, and east side in the early 1960's. Since the horse business was popular, they also conducted a bi-monthly horse and tack auction for several years. Dale and Pat have also conducted hundreds of Farm and Estate auctions over the years. He takes great pride in his business, noting that Napoleon Livestock is by far the longest running Livestock Auction in Michigan owned by the same family. Dale and Pat are very proud of being part of a family business, having 4 generations take part and every grandchild has contributed to Napoleon Livestock at one point in their life.
Dale and Pat are active at Napoleon United Methodist Church, and Dale was one of the first in a group of people to create the Napoleon Athletic Booster Club. He was proud to serve on the Napoleon School Board for many years. Defying retirement, both Dale, who is now 84, and Pat who declined to give her age, are still on duty 6 days a week! Dale looks forward to coming to the yards every day and working alongside and in partnership with his sons, Randy and Rick.