Dr. Don Good – My Hero

My name is Chris Mullinix and this represents my first ever Butler Blog.  I’m excited to do so but must admit my motivation stems from sadness.  We all have heroes and mentors in our life and last night I lost one of mine in Dr. Don Good.  Like most of the students who write on this blog, my background is of family farm origin where I grew up loving animal agriculture.  I know in my early years I viewed people like Michael Jordan or Joe Montana as heroes.  Today, my view on heroes is different.  Not to take anything away from those icons in sport, but as my life and passions changed so did my heroes.

Today, I feel very fortunate to be in my 15th year teaching in the Agriculture Department here at Butler and serving as the coach of our livestock judging team.  As I developed my enjoyment of judging through 4-H and at the collegiate level I also became interested in the history of my “sport.”  We’ve had so many individuals influence our industry and direct positive change!  But in my opinion that list starts with Don Good!  I am proud of my opportunity to judge shows across the country and the impact I am fortunate to have on young people as the coach of a collegiate livestock judging team.  In my opinion, no one ever did those two things with any greater skill, integrity level and success than Don Good!  Doesn’t that define a hero?

 As an evaluator of livestock, Don Good is widely considered one of the greatest cattle judges of all time.  His understanding of industry, astute eye, amazing communication skills and steadfast moral code gave him the opportunity to judge every major show in the country and numerous events worldwide.  What’s cool is that I honestly think Don derived as much joy from judging a Kansas county fair (which I believe he made an effort to judge every county show in the state) as he did judging the International in Chicago.  He just loved people and livestock no matter what the scope of the event!  Though I’m sure you could highlight many great moments in his judging career, the 1969 International in Chicago stands as an unbelievable moment in the livestock industry.  That year, judge Don Good selected the first ever crossbred to win a major livestock event and forever changed industry views on crossbreeding.  What we see as the norm today was anything but normal in that era.  Purebred livestock were viewed as superior to that of their crossbred, “mongrel,” counterparts.  With one “slap” Don Good changed that view.  Conoco (picture below) was a Charolais/Angus cross that weighed just shy of 1300 pounds as approximately 15 or 16 months of age and went on to grade middle choice with a yield grade of 2 and a 15+ inch ribeye.  In 1969!!  We couldn’t ask for any better four decades later.  Don Good was a pioneer – with GUTS!  A hero if you will.

 Dr. Good also served as the head livestock judging coach at Kansas State University for 20 years, spanning a portion of three decades.  A decorated collegiate competitor himself, Don was named the High Individual Overall at the American Royal and the Second High Overall at the Chicago International as at student at The Ohio State University.  I am so proud of my affiliation with the livestock judging program at K-State.  The enthusiasm of our alumni is unbelievable and it came from the efforts of Don Good and the impact he had on the lives of some many young people as their coach, teacher and mentor.  To many, judging success is measured in wins.  Victories are great, of which Don Good achieve many (Pictured below with his 1950 National Championship Team), but lives touched is what generates a legacy.  In his later years, I had the chance to share coaching philosophies with Dr. Good on several occasions and have spent time with countless former students who have each made their own profound impact on our industry.  Don believed in a consistent approach to teaching the principles of the livestock industry and developing life skills through livestock judging.  His students state it simply – “He made me a better person!”  Now that’s a hero.

 

On July 21, 2007, I married Elissa Good and became a part of the Good Family.  From that day forward, I began to have a greater appreciation for Don Good the man.  You see, inside the walls of their family home he was not Don Good the livestock icon or judging great.  He was simply, Dad or Husband or Grandpa or Uncle Don.  Up until that time, I viewed Don Good as my hero based on his exploits as a coach and livestock evaluator.  Once again my views of a hero have changed.  He made a life partner in his beautiful wife Jane and together raised the most amazing family I’ve ever been around.  A family I’m now proud to call my own!  In September, my wife will give birth to our first child and I hope I can continue to use Don Good as my inspiration on how to balance family and career.

Yesterday, I lost a hero.  But today, I realized that you never really lose your heroes.  The impact they have on your personality lasts a lifetime and hopefully can be passed on by your good deeds to others.  Thank you Don for being a great spokesman for industry, an American Soldier, a proud educator, a breeder of great livestock and a coach that touched the lives of so many students.  Most of all, thanks for just being “Uncle Don.”

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32 Comments on “Dr. Don Good – My Hero”

  1. Deanne Young Says:

    What a wonderful tribute Chris. You are following in his footsteps, by having an impact on many young peoples lives. I know you changes the path of our daughters life and helped her to write a different story than if she had not attended BCC. Congratulations on expecting your first child. You will make great parents.


    • Deanne – thank you for your kind words! It’s kind of amazing and I don’t know if you realize it until after the fact, but if you find your way into their world on an individual basis you have an amazing impact on one another. I’d like to think I impact their lives, but I know every student plays a role in the development of who I am and that is pretty cool. Sorry we took your daughter from home, but we will be proud to make her a citizen in a couple months!! Canada’s loss has definitely been American Agriculture’s gain!


  2. Well put Chris, glad you were able to start your blogging “career” with a tribute to a great leader like Dr. Good.

  3. Tera R Says:

    Very well written, Chris, and a true testament to what Don meant to you. He would be humbled and honored. He left his legacy in you – your impact will be felt by so many just the same.

  4. sstannard Says:

    Chris, what a great tribute to Don. And your words are so true, we never do lose our heroes. Their impact remains in our lives forever, and just as he impacted us as students and judgers and people, you are now leaving your legacy.

  5. Trae S Says:

    Although I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Good face to face I looked up to his accomplishments growing up myself! After our quick chat yesterday this piece sure helps put things into perspective in these times of frusteration! Well written!

  6. Caryl Velisek Says:

    Hi Chris, I’m from Ohio as you know and the Goods all played a part in my history with Angus cattle. I have photos of my family with Don judging at cattle shows hanging on my office wall. He was one of the good guys (no pun intended). Thanks for the tribute.


    • Caryl – Thanks for your comments. I bet you could recount so many shows/strories involving the Good family in your Ohio days. They are all special people and I’ve enjoyed the chance to become a part of the family! I had fun writing the tribute and think it came off pretty well – you know I’ve read my share of articles from well spoken, ag writers over the years though!!

      • Caryl Velisek Says:

        Wish I had written all that stuff down before I became a victim of Information Overload and before Aug died. He was the story teller. I’m just the writer.
        Good to hear from you.
        I was also thinking about a very young Chris M. who sang in my youth choir at Lisbon U.M. He was really good at helping me keep the younger kids in line!
        – Caryl

  7. Joe Leibbrandt Says:

    Chris really appreciated your comments. Lots of memories of Dr. Good giving officials at the old mock contest in Manhattan. One time he was discussing a market steer class. One steer in the class was far superior to the rest and to Don’s frustration everyone went on and on in their reasons about how great he was. When giving the official Dr. Good said loudly and emphatically, “Just call him a stud and be done with it!” As those of us who knew him pay remembrance, you could say the same about him. We could call him a stud and be done with it, yet that would be far too simple. Great man and a great hero for KSU and the livestock industry

  8. Brian Anderson Says:

    Chris,

    I admire your words and think they sum up Dr. Good very effectively. I got to know Dr. Good very well myself while at K-State even though he was in a retired position at that time. I will never forget while traveling with Dr. Drake who was coaching us on the livestock judging team at KSU during that time, that Calvin would have Dr. Good listen to reasons. I will never forget two things they he drove home to us each and every time he listened to us give reasons and I will remember them forever.

    1. Put the oil where the squeak is!!!!!!
    2. Keep on Keepin On!!!!!!!!!!!

    Two statements in life that if you really start to think about them apply in everything we do.

    Dr. Good was a great person in so many ways. I am glad I got to know him.

    Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

    Brian Anderson


    • Brian – Thanks for the info. Those are words to live by! Pretty cool we got to know the man huh? Thanks for your prayers, but I can tell you that last weekend was far more about celebration of a great life than it was about mourning his loss!

  9. Brian Anderson Says:

    Chris,

    So sorry to hear of the loss of such a great man. He was such a pioneer in so many ways. I remember while traveling on the judging team at KSU, Dr. Drake would invite Don to listen to reasons. He made two statements to me and I am sure every one on the team that stuck with me for life.

    1. Put the oil where the squeak is.
    2. Keep on Keepin On!!!!!1

    I will always remember him for being such a kind and caring person.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

    Brian Anderson

  10. Dacia Says:

    Chris, what a wonderful job you did! I’m sure Lis and all her family is so moved by your comments! You spoke so loving of someone everyone would love to know…even I met Don. At the time, I had no idea how famous he was in his realm. I just remember how nice and welcoming he was of Elissa’s friends. Our prayers are with the Good family during their loss of a great man and mentor.


    • Thanks Dacia – I think thats one of the neatest things about the man. As iconic a figure as he was, he didn’t feel the need to tell others. At home, he could just be Uncle Don! By the way – give my a girl a hug!


  11. Chris, thank you for a nice tribute to a great man. I remember showing under him many years ago (probably even at the International Livestock Exposition and I remember “Conoco” though for the life of me I can’t remember who showed him). The industry has lost one of the good ones. Mike recalls him as a true gentleman.


    • Thanks Becky and let me assure you Mike is correct in recalling Don as a “true gentleman.” His class, integrity and care for people shined through in everything he did!

    • Jeff Brooks Says:

      Becky,

      Brad Lindskog was the owner of Conoco. He is the boy holding the punchbowl in the picture. His sister Kris is holding the pitcher, and his parents Audrey and Eddie are behind the steer. They all live in Prophetstown, Il and are still involved in livestock production. I also live in Prophetstown and from a very young age was regaled with the story of how Dr. Good and his selection of Conoco profoundly changed the cattle industry for the better.

      Chris–a very fitting tribute to your mentor!!


  12. Chris, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet, but thank you so much for your wonderful words of our Uncle Don. I am Paul Good’s eldest daughter, living in Eureka, Montana, with my husband, Bob Good. ( I looked a long time for some guy to marry so I could end up with that GOOD name). Just reading your words made me relive many of the wonderful memories I had of Uncle Don.
    He and Aunt Jane were always very special to me, as they were to many, and my first wonderful memory of him was when he returned from WW II and stopped at our little house on Frothingham Street in Van Wert, Ohio. He knocked on the door in his uniform, duffle slung over his shoulder, smile on his face and this little girl immediately fell in love with him. He pulled out of his duffle a silk parachute and gave it to my mother, Alice Poling Good, to make a petticoat for me. I still have it !!
    I have heard so many great things about you too, many of them from Uncle Don and so look forward to meeting you and Elissa.
    Thank you.
    Ann Good Good


    • Ann – I have already heard so many great things about you and look forward to the chance to meet you as well! Don was a special man in all our lives and will be dearly missed but never forgotten. What a great story!

  13. Al Snedegar Says:

    Very appropriate, lots of thought! He was a great “Livestock” person, and those of us who knew him were fortunate. The “Land- Grants” of today are very short of people like Don!


    • I agree Al, we need more people like Don in all walks of life but especially at the university level where the influence on our next generation of livestock industry leaders is so critical. We may be short on those kind of people, but make no mistake Al Snedegar is one of those people who makes a difference in the lives of young people!

  14. Caryl Velisek Says:

    Hi Chris, I’ve been enjoying the comments about your blog. I knew two of the Goods, Don, of course, as a judge at shows we showed in, and Paul, and his good friend and fellow auctioneer, Merlin Woodruff, all from Van Wert, I believe. Van Wert, O., was a ‘hot bed’ of good Angus cattle. We bought one of our first heifers there.
    Lot’s of good memories have been conjured up!


    • What an amazing family Caryl! All of Don’s siblings have lived incredible lives. His sister Libby has made her life calling in the ministry as a missionary in South America. Each of his brothers have had a powerful impact on the livestock industry! You mentioned Paul who was widely considered one of the greatest auctioneers of all time. His oldest brother, Byron, was an incredible livestock man himself and managed the purebred teaching units at Michigan State University for many years. His youngest brother, Fred, managed the beef unit at Ohio State and spent time managing several premier herds across the country (including a stop in Maryland some time ago) before building his own Angus and Simmental program in Charlotte, Michigan. Fred is my grandfater-in-law and one of the greatest cattlemen I’ve ever met!

      • Caryl Velisek Says:

        I had forgotten about Byron and, yes, we knew him. Not sure I ever met Fred. But it could have been after we left Ohio. Could be that whole Information Overload thing again. We spent a lot of time with the Ohio state herd. Especially when Bardoliermere 2nd was there. And, yes, Paul was probably one of the best auctioneers I’ve ever heard. Woodruff wasn’t bad either. Again, lots of memories. Mostly great ones. The Angus business and the cattle business in general, afforded us a terrific and interesting life and acquaintance with so many wonderful people. it’s been a great ride! Working on my second book and this has added fuel to the fire.

  15. Bradley Groves Says:

    Chris,
    That was a wonderful tribute. One memory of judging at Kstate that I will never forget is going to Don’s farm and working out on Angus bulls. It was amazing to me that as everyone introduced themselves and stated where they were from that he either had a story about their hometown or he new someone that was connected to them and I might add that included everywhere from Louisiana to California to New York. He was truly a great man who had a knack for connecting with every person he met. I like Brian remember him talking about the squeaky wheel and keep on keepin on. I also chuckle from time to time about some of the funny stories we have all heard. Who remembers the one, I think they were judging Suffolk ewes’ and he says “Boys they are Shorthorn heifers!” because they could not find any Shorthorns to work out on the way to Chicago. He will truly be missed and remembered by many.


    • Thanks for the stories Brad. You are absolutely right – Don had an amazing way of connecting with people regardless of their background. His ability to find common ground always made him a comfortable person to spend time with because you never felt like you were talking to a bigger than life personality (even though you really were). The “Shorthorn Heifer” story is priceless. I one time turned a set of wethers loose and told a team to judge them as ewes and I thought that was wild – never crossed the species barrier though!


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