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Wendell Leafstedt

Wendell Leafstedt
Wendell Leafstedt

Eminent Farmer

County: Union

Wendell Leafstedt of Alcester is noted not only for his successes in swine breeding and cattle feeding, but also for his contributions to agriculture, his community and his state.

He became an Eminent Farmer in 1985 during the 57th annual ceremonies at South Dakota State University.

The Leafstedt farm near Alcester has been in the family for 111 years and has been recognized as a South Dakota Centennial Farm. His grandfather had homesteaded the land in 1874. His father operated it until 1944, and Leafstedt ran it until his own semi-retirement in 1979 when his son James took over.

The Leafstedt swine enterprise also has a history. Leafstedt's father assembled the family's first herd of Poland China hogs in 1918, just two years before Leafstedt graduated from Hawarden High School and joined the operation as a partner.

The reputation of the breeding stock spread as several champions were exhibited at shows and fairs during the years to come. One of these was the grand champion boar "Grand Master" which was acquired in 1932 and eventually won top awards in several states.

Leafstedt later became a judge at such shows. He became a director of the National Poland China Record Association in 1956 and later served as its president. He helped start the South Dakota Pork Council and was on the committee for building the Swine Complex at the South Dakota State Fair. He also served as president of the South Dakota Swine Cholera Eradication Committee.

In addition to these activities he served as a state senator, helped found the local Lion's Club and became a director of the local bank. Numerous other committees and boards oriented to local, area and state activities also claim a share of his time.

One activity became something of a family tradition. His grandfather helped found the Union County Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Association nearly 100 years ago. His father served as its secretary and manager from 1920 to 1944, and Leafstedt took the same job until 1979. He also serves as a director of the Farm Mutual Re-Insurance Company of South Dakota.

Leafstedt and his wife, Marguerite, have two sons, James and Stuart. James is a graduate of SDSU and Stuart graduated both from USD and Northwestern University Medical School.