Lee and Bev Struckmeyer, along with their children, are pictured in front of Lee’s tractor and the metal Struckmeyer name plate that hangs at the entrance to their farm. Their grandson, Sidney Struckmeyer, crafted the sign. Bev and Lee are pictured in front, with family in back, from left, Jennifer and Del Struckmeyer, Pam and Damon Struckmeyer, Kipp and Summer Struckmeyer, Cindy Stewart and Cindy’s friend, Richard Ontiveros.
Lee and Bev Struckmeyer to lead Phillips County Fair parade
Despite their surprise at being selected, Lee and Bev Struckmeyer seem the perfect couple to lead the Phillips County Fair Parade as its grand marshals when the parade travels down Holyoke’s Interocean Avenue on Saturday, July 27.
The Phillips County Fair Board announced that the couple will serve as this year’s royalty in the fairbook, which was published earlier this year. The book outlines all the contests and events scheduled for the July 23-28 fair, which carries the theme, Bushels of Fun.
The Struckmeyers seem a perfect match to the theme. Both smile often and seem to look at life with a positive and upbeat attitude despite some health issues experienced by Bev. One of those health issues kept them from attending the only fair they missed since they married in a double ceremony along with Bev’s brother Gene Cranwell and Lee’s sister Julie Struckmeyer on June 23, 1963, in the Methodist church in Holyoke.
They also come with years of participation in 4-H and the fair. Lee started participating in 4-H in 1953 in Phillips County, and Bev started participating around that same time in Nebraska. Lee also participated in the Future Farmers of America while in high school.
According to a piece written by Carrie Anderson of the Golden Plains Extension Service and published in the fairbook, Lee started in FFA through a Sears and Roebuck program that provided 10 ewes that participants had to show at the Colorado State Fair, which Lee did.
He also won many honors in 4-H, including grand champion steer at the county fair and champion steer at the state fair. Lee recalled that he belonged to the American Farmers 4-H Club led by Jean Toyne the year he won grand champion steer. He said he’s never talked to Toyne about it, but he would bet she has not missed many fairs either.
He credits both Toyne and longtime Phillips County resident Carl Ferguson for his success, for always being supportive and for fostering an appreciation for 4-H leaders.
Bev was raised 1 mile north of Lamar, Nebraska, and attended Chase County High School with the exception of one year when the family moved to Holyoke where she met Lee while both attended Holyoke High School. Although her family moved back to Nebraska the following school year, she and Lee continued to date. Lee graduated from Holyoke High School in 1962.
Bev, who graduated from Chase County High School in 1963, said she mostly worked on household type projects in 4-H, which she entered in the fair, but her brothers entered livestock, mostly cattle.
Bev and Lee eventually had four children, but Bev said they might have ended up with only two if it had not been for Gene and Julie. “We had two children and thought that would be all. Then Gene and Julie had four. Gene asked me one day why we had four, and I told him it was his fault because he and Julie came along and had four and made it look so fun that we tried it again.”
Gene died in 1997. Julie, who remarried, now lives in Wray.
Lee and Bev’s oldest child, Cynthia Jean “Cindy” Stewart, lives in Sterling where she is a beautician. She and her late husband, Doug Stewart, have one son, Darren and wife Lexie, who have two children, Haylie Mae, 6 weeks, and Ryan Madisyn, 3. They also have a daughter, Shannon, who lives in Sterling and works at Barnes Pharmacy.
The couple’s eldest son, Damon Everett and wife Pam, have a daughter, Mariah, 25, and a son, Sidney, 20. Both are attending college. They also have a son, Baylor, 16, who is a sophomore at Holyoke High School. The couple lost one child, Westyn, at the age of 17 months.
Bev and Lee’s second son, Kipp Kenneth and wife Summer, have two girls, Leah, 13, and Amy, 7. Their youngest son, Del Dean and his wife Jennifer, have two children, Brandon, 22, of Kearney, Nebraska, and Austen, 16, of Holyoke.
Damon, Kipp and Del farm along with Lee and Bev on their farm southwest of Holyoke in Yuma County. The family runs a cow/calf operation and a feedlot and also raise corn. “We stay busy,” said Lee.
Lee’s roots grow deep in Phillips County. His grandparents, Henry and Ida (Fryrear) Struckmeyer, moved to Colorado from Clatonia, Nebraska (south of Lincoln), in 1919 and purchased a farm 6 miles north of Holyoke. His father, Everett, was born in 1916 in Clatonia and his mother, Doris (Hagerman), was also born in Nebraska.
Everett Struckmeyer died at age 51, and Lee’s mother married Frank Ferguson, a neighbor whose wife had died from cancer. Ferguson owned the farm Lee and Bev now live on, where he at one time raised Hereford cattle.
When it was time for Cindy and Damon to enter 4-H, Bev and Lee started the Wages 4-H Club, but by the time Kipp and Del were old enough to participate, the group had disbanded. “It’s like everything else,” said Bev. “As time went on, people moved away and the kids grew up and graduated.”
Even though the Wages group was no longer active, Kipp and Del also participated in 4-H. All four Struckmeyer children showed steers at the fair, and now the couple’s grandchildren continue that tradition.
According to Anderson’s writing, Damon’s daughter Mariah and her brothers Sidney and Baylor also showed steers along with Kipp’s daughter Leah, who has already started showing. Kipp’s daughter Amy expects to start showing steers next year.
Lee said when Damon was in FFA, he rode the train to attend national conference.
Kipp served as state officer while in FFA and went to state and regionals with his projects. Lee and Bev sponsored those trips and drove the buses.
Cindy’s children showed goats at the Logan County Fair held in Sterling each year.
Lee, who remained involved in 4-H and FFA as an adult, said 4-H teaches young people the lesson of taking responsibility for raising the animals, while FFA offers more education in things like public speaking.
He worked on the Junior Livestock Sale Committee for many years, and although he admits that he doesn’t do much these days, he was there to support his children, grandchildren and others over the years.
Even though Lee and Bev remain surprised that the fair board selected them as grand marshals, they feel extremely honored. They also do not know what is expected beyond riding in the parade, but if they get a choice of vehicles in which to ride, they want it to be a 1949 International W6 tractor that belonged to Lee’s father.
The family is currently restoring the tractor, and Lee said he expects them to have it ready in time. “We haven’t talked to the fair board,” said Lee. “So we don’t know what they want, whether they even want us to do that or not, but that is kind of our plan.”
Both Lee and Bev expressed appreciation for the honor and commended Anderson for her research for the article and her writing. “We thought she did an excellent job,” said Lee. He also expressed his appreciation to daughter-in-law Pam for help to compile the article.