SHARON SPRINGS, NY – Willis Stryker Conard, 77, passed on peacefully at Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, NY on Nov. 12, 2011, after a valiant battle with prostate cancer. Born Dec. 16, 1933, in Belle Mead, NJ, he was a son of the late Samuel L. and Mary Stryker Conard. After meeting his life partner [beloved wife Patricia Martin] at the 1950 NJ State 4-H Dairy Cattle Show, he graduated from Somerville High School in 1952. He began his agricultural career as a DHIA milk tester and later worked as a herdsman for prominent NJ Holstein breeder, Jessie Lake who inspired Willis’s passion for breeding great Holsteins.
Willis and Pat married in 1955. Together, they launched their career through several dairy herd manager positions throughout the northeast. In 1962, they rented the Van-Pelt farm in Readington, NJ and in 1969, purchased their present-day Ridgedale Farm in Sharon Springs, NY where they resided for the past 42 years.
His many awards include: 1988 NYS Master Breeder, 2004 Montgomery Co. Conservation Farmer of the Year and 2010 OHM Holstein Club “Honoring Our Own” award. His memberships included Farm Bureau and National Holstein Association and he served as a director and sales agent for the OHM Holstein Club.
Willis was recognized internationally for his cattle breeding & development skills. He marked Holstein history by breeding the world’s first EX-97 Red & White Holstein sire and bred and developed the world’s first 3-generation line of EX-95 females, all bearing his Ridgedale prefix and all developed under his attentive care.
His dairy farm and Holsteins were the great joy of his life, but if given a spare moment, he also enjoyed fishing and hunting.
Willis was predeceased by his wife, Patricia, son Willis S. Conard, Jr., and brother Robert Conard. He is survived by a son Wayne L. Conard (Jen) of Sharon Springs, NY; a daughter Amy R. Monk of Canajoharie, NY; six grandchildren, W. Cyrus and Isaac C. Conard; Hannah D. and Rochelle R. Monk; Juli A. (Conard) Myers and Willis S. Conard, III; and two great grandchildren. Additional survivors include two brothers and two sisters: George (Judy) Conard of NJ; Mary (Kenneth) Zeller of NJ; Doug (Sondra) Conard of IA; and Hannah (Jay) Drake of NJ.
In accordance with Willis’ wishes, he was accepted to the Anatomical Gift Program at Albany Medical Center. A private memorial service will be held at a later date.
Contributions in Willis’ memory can be made to the “Willis S. Conard Master Showman Award Fund” c/o Wayne Conard, 164 Maring Road, Sharon Springs, NY 13459. The fund will annually provide an award to the Master Showman youth exhibiting at the NY Spring Dairy Carousel in Syracuse, NY. To leave a message of condolence for the family please visit www.HansFuneralHome.com.
Suzanne Conard Lee
It is with great sadness to hear of Willis Sr. passing. He was a very gentle and kind man, he will be miss greatly. Sending prayers and thoughts of condolences to the whole Conard Family.
Douglas Conard, brother
Willis was a brother that no one can match. He was one of my big brothers, but taught me ever so much how to appreciate the outdoor life of hunting, trapping and fishing. I always enjoyed working with and for Willis during my growing up years. The time spent with his kids was very limited, but priceless in value,with great memories that I will never forget. My last visit with Willis was a time that I will treasure for the rest of my life, because we remembered many events of our early years. To Amy I want say a big “thank you” for spending time with us those few days for the good conversation and wonderful food.
Dear Wayne and Amy and families,
So sorry to hear about your father. I know how hard it is and I hope that your cherished memories will help you through this difficult time.
Cindy Lenner (Daughter of Geroge Conard)
I am so sad to hear of Willis’s passing. Such a loss for your family and so painful to witness our loved ones in pain. Your family is always in our prayers and thoughts. It is painful to say goodbye, but he lived and loved well. We will always have the treasures for heaven, the memories in our hearts that will never fade. Love is eternal and he is now at peace and is no longer suffering, which from what I heard from my dad he hid rather well.
Love and Blessings to all of the family at this sad time. Time will heal and his love for you will never end!
Love always the Lenner Family; Cindy, Tom Jessica and Justin
Tricia Vail Nelson
My thoughts and prayers are with your family in this time of sorrow. He was a great man who truly loved everything about the dairy industry and the dairy cow. He will truly be missed by all.
So sorry to hear of the passing of your father. He will be greatly missed. I trust that he is celebrating with Pat and Willis Jr with no more pain. You all are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. My deepest sympathy. Love & Hugs