Janesville62.4°

Farmer remembered as protector of the land

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Mike DuPre'
December 31, 2007
— When Bob Venable died Friday, the land lost a friend and protector.

“He loved the land,” said an old friend, Neal Schneider of Janesville. “He was a steward of the land. He said he was just taking care of the land.”


Venable, 83, also made a living for his family off the land.


Bob and his wife of 58 years, Virgie, hosted Wisconsin Farm Progress Days in 2001 at their farm at 8525 E. County MM. The Venables owned and operated their family farm since 1957.


They raised beef cattle and cash crops of corn and soybeans.


Hosting Farm Progress Days was one of Venable’s proudest moments, Schneider said.


“He just felt very good about the land and farming,” Schneider said.


Venable deserved to host Farm Progress Days, said Ralph Wetmore, another old friend and fellow farmer.


“Bob was a model in the farming community as far as setting a pace for doing new things,” Wetmore said.


Venable was among local agricultural leaders in such areas as confinement production of beef, using satellite global positioning for accurate planting and minimal tillage to preserve the soil, Wetmore said.


Venable’s work ethic was exemplary, Wetmore said, and he liked to enjoy himself with sports, especially golf, during his down time.


“He’d say, ‘We work hard, and we play hard,’” Wetmore recalled.


A member of the Janesville County Club, Venable also was a member of a group of golfers who would pick a different public course to play every other Tuesday, said Wetmore, another member of the touring linksmen.


“Bob was wonderful to play with,” Wetmore said. “He was competitive like I am, but not one to lose his cool on the course.


“He was a gracious loser, and he was a gracious winner.”


Venable was a good neighbor who gladly helped in a pinch, Allen Dorr said.


Besides being neighbors, Venable and Dorr attended Rock Prairie United Presbyterian Church, where Venable served as an elder and trustee and sang in the choir.


They played softball and basketball together on the church team.


Venable was highly competitive but good-natured when he played, Dorr recalled.


“He was very active in anything he undertook,” Dorr said.


Bob and Virgie raised five children—a “very close family,” Schneider said—and the loss of their son, Tom, to cancer in 1993 was a big blow for all the Venables.


The Venable family now includes 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


One of Venable’s sons-in-law, Dennis Logterman of Avalon, described his father-in-law as “a good businessman and very outgoing, cheerful and always positive.”


With a great sense of humor, Venable enjoyed telling jokes and spinning tales, Logterman said, adding:


“There was never a good story that he couldn’t embellish.”



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