Vernon W Sanders, 94, passed away on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, following a series of health issues.
He is survived by his nephew, Duke Herrero (wife Jill), nephew Mark Herrero, and an extended family of cattle breeders and friends worldwide.
He was born in San Francisco in 1922 and graduated from Stanford University in 1947 with a B.A. in psychology. In 1948 Vern was married to Jane Prakel of San Francisco for 10 years. They had no children. During World War II he served four years in the United States Army, retiring as field artillery captain, followed by five years in the Army Reserve.
His business career included vice president of Thompson Aircraft Tire Corp for 10 years, and ultimately President for another 10 years. Thompson was a large military supplier following WW II with factories in California, Florida, New York and Belgium.
In 1960 Vern Sanders bought the first Polled Hereford cattle for his Oak Hill Ranch near Santa Rosa, Calif. Oak Hill was successful with numerous championships in the early 60s, and in 1967 he bought property in southcentral Montana he named Beartooth Hereford Ranch, where he began acquisition of Registered Polled Hereford livestock.
After a reorganization dispersal sale in 1979, Vern became partners with manager George Ellis, and they continued the unprecedented success with numerous Superior Sire awards, Gold Trophy Dam awards, and national show championships. Over the years, Beartooth became a force in the show ring with Premier Breeder awards in 13 of 16 consecutive National Polled Hereford Shows.
Vern Sanders was an innovator in record keeping and performance testing in an era when little or no records existed. He pioneered and created computer programs and systems that measured and tracked every stage of development of every animal he owned. Many of his innovations have become standards in Breed Association records and Purebred breeding programs around the world. He created some of the early Artificial Insemination protocols, and Beartooth was site of the first on-farm embryo transfer in North America in 1977.
Vern Sanders was a member of Big Brothers, past President of the Tire Industry Association, a member of President Eisenhower’s Highway Safety Committee, past President of the Montana Polled Hereford Association, past Chairman of the American Polled Hereford Association, and a Director of the National Cattlemen’s Association. He was a lifetime member of the American Legion and VFW and a selfless supporter of Honor Flight. Following retirement he focused much of his time on veteran activities and travel.
He was a downhill skier into his 70s throughout the Rockies and the European Alps, was an avid motorcycle rider while living in Marin County, and enjoyed international travel while promoting his cattle.
Vern was the consummate gentleman, in every sense of the word. He was the kind of man that sent a personal thank you note. Well into his 90s he would still open the door and pull out a chair for a lady.
He would go out of his way to ask how you were doing. He made you feel as though your life was the most important thing to him, and he loved to catch up over a glass on the rocks, no water.
We will miss his gentle, caring and polite demeanor. We will miss his guidance and steadfast hold on manners, integrity and dignity. He will live on with the lives he touched, and the global effect his cattle and innovations have had on the livestock industry.
Per his request there will be no funeral service, and his ashes will be scattered on the ranch he built and loved. Memorials may be made to your local VFW or charity of your choice. Vern would want us to remember him with a “remember the time he…” story, and honor him with a kind and respectful gesture to someone you meet.