Reprinted from The Husker Harvest Days Program Guide – By Curt Arens – Date: September, 2021
You really can’t talk about live cattle handling demonstrations at Husker Harvest Days without mentioning John Kearney. He was a vital part of the cattle handling demos, including the first session that demonstrated only three livestock chutes.
For well over 30 years, John worked with Lexington veterinarian and entertainer, Dr. Joe Jeffrey, to educate HHD audiences. John, age 72 of Overton, passed away on July 13, 2020, at the CHI Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.
Born on Jan. 16, 1948, John graduated from St. Ann’s High School in Lexington in 1966. He worked for area farmers until he entered the U.S. Army in 1968. After his service, John worked as a welder at Perkins Manufacturing, and later as a salesman for Big Valley and Behlen Mfg. Co., traveling all over the country to farm shows like HHD.
When HHD added live cattle handling and side-by-side chute demonstrations, John was one of the early organizers. “He was a great guy to work with,” says Jeffrey of his old friend. “He was fun to be around. John always had his talk ready to go during the chute presentations, and we would try to trip him up. But he never missed a beat.”
Jeffrey, along with chute operators and sales staff from different companies, who put on the cattle handling at HHD worked hard to build the demonstrations into something that was educational and entertaining. “We had a lot of fun teasing each other,” Jeffrey says. He notes how early organizers like John worked together to make the demonstrations as popular as they have become.
Jeffrey says that John was very good with people and knew how to talk with producers. When he wasn’t working, he enjoyed hunting, fishing, going out to eat and attending church. He was buried with military honors at St. Ann’s Cemetery in Lexington.
The team at Husker Harvest Days, as well as Nebraska Farmer magazine, extends our sincere condolences to the Kearney family, and gratitude for all of John’s hard work in building up HHD cattle handling over the years.