John Gauger (pronounced Yawger) Clear Lake, South Dakota, was born, raised and continues to operate on land homesteaded by his grandfather in Deuel County.
The senior partner of a well-known family corporation called Shady Lane Farms, Inc., John and his brother Milton started in the livestock business with a pair of Angus heifers purchased for them by their father in 1917. The result is a 50-year partnership success story that is probably unequaled anywhere in the cattle business. The Shady Lane herd now contains 1,000 head of registered cattle and is the backbone of a four-farm 2,500 acre operation that supports both brothers plus three boys including John’s son Ardell. Janice, a daughter, teaches at Watertown, South Dakota, and also stays at home.
While John is probably best known outside South Dakota for his success with cattle, there are a number of things in the community of Deuel and Codington Counties that can be linked with the talent of John Gauger.
His interest in agriculture and 4-H probably is best expressed in terms of service: 32 years on the County Fair Board; 25 as a 4-H leader and his interest in 4-H activities continues as Shady Lane Farms sponsor many 4-H awards and trophies for the Deuel County 4-H program. Including a special annual sale of calves to be used as 4-H projects.
He was a member of the Deuel County Extension Board 14 years, chairman for 9; 12 years on the board of Watertown Community Oil Company, 10 as chairman; 8 years on the Deuel County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Committee, and was chairman 7. He is a charter member of the South Dakota State University Advisory Board which was organized in 1954.
John helped found the South Dakota Angus Breeders Association in 1928 and has been active in state and regional levels of this breed association over the years.
Busy as he has been both with business and community work he has taught Sunday School regularly since he was 18 in the United Methodist Church (formerly Evangelical United Bretheren). In addition he has served in a number of ways on local conference and regional levels.