Everyone at Cowsmo would like to send their deepest condolence’s to the family and friends of Dr. John Underwood.
Dr. John Paul Underwood was born May 14, 1962 in Humansville, MO to Ruby and Billie Underwood and passed away January 19, 2022 in Springfield, MO.
John Underwood dedicated his life to the dairy industry. John grew up on the Bil-Und family dairy and farmed 240 acres near Fair Play, Missouri. In 1972, John purchased his first registered Holstein and purchased other lots at the Ozark Spring Classic Sale. The operation in Fair Play was successful until it disbursed in 1984.
A 1980 graduate of Fair Play High School, John was an active member of the FFA chapter and continued to support it throughout his life. His first job as herdsman for Martin Prairie Farms of Humansville, Missouri resulted in three cows setting annual milk production records in Missouri. In 1991, John began pursuing his journey in higher education. Underwood is the graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia where he earned a Bachelor’s degree with honors in 1995 and a Master’s in 1998, both in Animal Sciences. John worked at Foremost Farm and was both a teaching and laboratory assistant while doing graduate work at MU. John then attended the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign obtaining his doctorate in Dairy Cattle Nutrition in 1999.
After graduation, John worked at the notable Golden Oaks Dairy in Wauconda, Illinois and also was a long-term employee of Freddy Martin, Martin Prairie Farm, Humansville, MO. Underwood worked for MFA Incorporated as a dairy specialist promoting feed sales while servicing customers. He was also sales representative for Renaissance Nutrition in Wisconsin and Turner’s Feed in Hartville, MO.
John’s passion lied in researching and compiling information about the past and present dairy industry in Missouri. John acquired nearly every “Holstein World” printed which have been since donated to the College of the Ozarks. John Underwood has a lengthy record of studying and writing about dairy production industry. His vision and passion resulted in publication of two books that are of high value to the industry. Underwood authored the 500 page book “Celebrating 100 Years of Missouri Holsteins” published in 2012 for the National Holstein Convention. This work was by far his proudest achievement and one he fondly would talk about and reminisce for hours with anyone who would indulge him.
John also wrote the “Sires of Distinction: The M.F.A. Artificial Breeding Association and Its Impact on Missouri’s Dairy Industry.” This publication detailed the history of AI in Missouri and M.F.A.’s contribution to sires and the technology of the time. In addition to these two books, John extensively researched Clyde Hill, a famous Holstein farm owned by a covenant of nuns from 1918 to 1963. He wanted to write a book on their great history as well. But it was during this time that he lost his eyesight. This project has now been resurrected by Ron Eustice of Minnesota. These publications truly reflect John’s love for the Registered Holstein cow.
John also was active in nominating deserving candidates for the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors, determined to see that all of Missouri’s leaders and pioneers were justly honored. John received the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors Meritorious Service Award in 2012 and was scheduled to receive the 2021 Missouri Holstein Association Distinguished Service Award two days after his passing.
While John was active in the dairy industry, he was also active in the community. Underwood was a staunch supporter of the Fair Play FFA Chapter still sponsoring the Billy R. Underwood award since 1980. John was an active member of the Missouri Holstein Association and was a sponsor for numerous Missouri Junior Holstein events and awards. 4-H Dairy Cow Camp was an event Underwood was passionate about and one of his fondest dairy youth events. Underwood gave his time and expertise to Cow Camp every year for over 20 years, hosting workshops for youth teaching them about calf care and dairy nutrition, subjects close to his heart.
John was preceded in death by his father and maternal grandparents, Walter and Vee Stauffacher. He is survived by his mother, Ruby Sneed of Sparta; a sister, Glenda Kooney and niece, Brianna Kooney, of Glendale, AZ; a sister, Barbara Hendrix and husband David of Sparta; a nephew, Lance Hendrix and wife Emily of Chalfont, PA; a niece, Amber Gieber and husband Chris, a great niece Qwynn, and great nephews, Jayden and Devon, all of Sparta; an aunt Virginia Stauffacher of Bolivar; and many cousins. Graveside services are planned for later in the year.
John held the firm belief that the best way to promote the dairy industry was through the youth and the next generation of farmers and leaders in the dairy and agriculture industries. A memorial has been established in his honor to continue to support 4-H Dairy Cow Camp, Fair Play FFA and dairy youth across Missouri. Memorials can be made to: Greene County 4-H Foundation (Memo: John Underwood Memorial). Mail to: Greene County 4-H Foundation c/o Billy Claiborn, 2316 E. Harrison, Springfield, MO 65802.
If anyone is interested in John’s book “100 Years of Missouri Holsteins”. You may send $40 to Missouri Holstein Association, 11449 Lawrence 2220, Verona, MO 65769 or email: [email protected]