Joe A. Duarte of Duarte-Acres Holsteins Obituary - Cowsmo

Joe A. Duarte of Duarte-Acres Holsteins Obituary

Everyone at Cowsmo would like to send our deepest condolence’s to the family and friends of Joe.

Joe-Duarte_cowsmo22It is with heavy hearts that we write that our Dad, Joe A. Duarte, passed away on July 18, 2022 on his 98th Birthday. We lost our Hero, our wonderful Dad, the dairy industry lost a Champion and true Leader, and the world lost a Legend and truest example of a Gentleman.

Joe was born on July 18, 1924, and grew up in Tracy, CA where he graduated from Tracy High in 1944. A year later, at the annual Tracy New Year’s Eve Dance, Joe asked his beloved Mary to dance, and it was on this night that they fell in love. Joe said often that he was “the luckiest man in the world” when Mary said ‘Yes’, the day that he asked for her hand in marriage on September 15th, 1946. Joe married the love of his life, Mary S. Duarte on June 1, 1947, at St. Bernard’s Church in Tracy. Married for over 74 years, together they lived a charmed and beautiful life. Forever at each other’s sides, husband and wife and best friends.

A lifetime of memories, achievements, awards, milestones and innovations Joe has accomplished. He was always thinking, always working to improve on everything he did. Joe would often tell the story that his High School Teacher, Mrs. Baumgarden, told him “Joe, you’re going to do great things in your life because you always say, ‘I’ll try to do it’ and you never say that ‘you can’t do it.’” And that is how Joe lived his life….he always put his best effort forward in everything he touched and he always said he would try his best.

Joe and Mary started their early years together in Tracy, CA where Joe (with the help of one of his friends) built Mary her first home. In their early years, Joe worked very hard on the dairy of his father, Antone Duarte and his sister, Mary and Brother-in-Law, Manuel Pasqual. In 1951, Joe, Mary and Joe’s father Antone moved to Modesto where they began their partnership owning and operating their dairy. Joe would share the story that as he and Mary were driving away from Tracy on their move to Modesto, they both cried as they were leaving behind the town that they grew up and where their friends lived.

In May 1958 they purchased their cherished ranch on Faith Home Road and the world-renowned prestigious Duarte-Acres Holsteins was established. Joe would say how fortunate they were that they were able to purchase their beautiful “Faith Home Dairy and Ranch” where they resided for over 64 years. It was here where they raised their three daughters, met so many wonderful friends and great neighbors and were welcomed into their community in the “then” small town of Turlock.

Joe was partners with his father Antone from 1951 until November 1966 when his father passed away. Joe often recited how intelligent his father (our Vovo) was. He would say that his father was an “excellent cow man.” The two would work hard side by side and Joe always spoke proudly and fondly of his father. Joe would say he learned everything from Vovo and never forgot his father’s teachings. He cherished those days where he was fortunate to get to work with his father and strived to make his father proud of him. (Dad, Vovo was very proud of you — we are all so very proud of you.)

Through Joe’s genius, Duarte-Acres would thrive and go on to break many milk productions records. In 1959 Joe’s cows were the first herd to break the 600-pound cow average of butterfat in Stanislaus County. In 1970 Joe’s Holsteins were the 3rd Highest Honor List Herd in the nation. Joe always would say “if you take good care of your cows, your cows will take care of you.” And take good care of his cows Joe did. He never liked seeing his or any other dairymen’s cows out in the mud. That bothered him tremendously. Joe came up with the design of building free stall barns back in the mid 1960’s. He drew up a design and his good friend and Contractor (Mary’s cousin) Frank Souza would go on to build it. Joe and Frank would sit for hours at the kitchen table as the two would put their thinking heads together engineering plans and models on improving working operations at the Duarte Dairy. Joe was always thinking of ways to improve efficiency as he believed 100% on maximizing efficiency in everything he did, and he never took off his “thinking cap.” Duarte-Acres Dairy would accomplish much through Joe’s never-ending drive, hard-working ethics, and pride in building the best Herd.

Joe loved his Holstein Cows and his Holstein Cows loved Joe. He spent hours on the Dairy. It was amazing to watch Joe (wearing his infamous safari hat) walk through his many cow strings and his cows never stirred. They welcomed Joe into their “herd” as if he was one of their own. Joe could wind his way in between the cows who were either lying down in the exercise lot or standing around and his cows didn’t move a muscle — they trusted Joe and knew he was such a good man, such a kind man, such a caring man. They knew under his loving care that they were well cared for and had the very best Dairyman tending to their every need.

In the early 1960’s Joe knew he could improve milk production if his cows were fed the proper diet throughout their gestation. Joe was a very smart man, and he was brilliant at getting other smart minded professionals to come sit with him at the dining room “round table” and go over nutrition. He would invite Dr. Johnson (Nutritionist for Stanislaus County) His veterinarian, Dr. Baker, A.L. Gilbert & Sons Feed, Lyle Hoyt (Director of Nutrition at Moorman’s) and Ed. Vieira would sit at their “round table meetings.” With the help of these good men, Joe came up with Total Mix Ration (TMR) which delivered the correct amount of protein/carbs to his cows at the right time throughout the months they were producing and then adjusting their TMR diet when they were dry. Joe also worked with his Kirby salesman to design a “Mixer” that would efficiently combine the cows’ TMR diet — and the now commonly used “feed mixer wagon” was invented. With the creation of TMR, Duarte-Acres Holsteins was the first herd to break 20,000 lb. cow average in 1970. Joe and Duarte-Acres Holsteins went on to break many milk production records and Herd Average awards.

Joe, with Frank Souza’s construction know how, continuously built onto Duarte-Acres. With the newly designed free stalls, which were first built on Duarte-Acres in the mid 1960’s, came the flush systems which washed down the concrete and left the cows with clean corals to meander. As Joe never liked to see his corals dirty and did not want his cows to get dirty. With the flush system Joe designed the very first lagoons to hold the water where his efficient system would recycle water from the corals to the lagoon via a solids separator. All this technology introduction came from the eyes, the mind, and the amazing vision of Joe.

In February 1970 Frank and his wife Ethel invited Joe and Mary on a trip to Europe to see the circular automated milk barns. Frank wanted to introduce this technology to California’s dairymen and wanted Joe to go with him as, with Joe there, Frank knew he had the smartest dairyman with him. Joe and Mary talked about this wonderful trip for years. Mary had never flown on an airplane, and it was a trip of a lifetime for both Joe and Mary. Their love of traveling was ignited with this European adventure.

Joe would build Mary her next new custom home which was completed in October 1971 — and Joe would often chuckle and tease Mary that she was lucky as she was fortunate to get to live in two newly built homes. Mary always knew how lucky she was in marrying Joe. Joe adored Mary, never missed a day that he didn’t tell her he loved her and she him; always told Mary that she was so beautiful (and our mom was beautiful.) Theirs was truly a love story-what storybooks are written about our parents lived it.
Joe and Frank, in the late 1970’s, would design and build Duarte-Acres’ parallel 10 cow Herringbone Milking Barn. This again was another state-of-the-art technology for its time where Joe was involved in the design every inch of the way.

The awards and achievements that Joe accomplished in his lifetime were extensive. To say he left behind a Legacy is an understatement…. Joe left behind a path to which the next generation and the next and the generation after that one will have to guide them in continuously improving the Dairy industry; continuously improving on efficiency and continuously improving on the herdsman ship and care of his beloved Cows.

As Joe introduced more and more advancements in Dairy Herd Management, he become widely recognized as a Leader and a trail blazer in the dairy industry. Extensive invitations for Joe to speak on Dairy Herd Management came in from all over the United States and internationally. Joe was invited to speak at dairy industry events throughout all the US, Canada, Portugal, Germany, and Holland. Joe prepared his professional slide show and shared his management practices with as many dairymen who would listen. Joe always wanted to help his fellow dairymen and was generous in sharing his industry ideas, his dairy management practices, and his time. Numerous articles have been written about Joe.

In June 1970 Joe hosted the Duarte Dairy Day co-hosted with Moorman Manufacturing and their Director of Nutrition, Mr. Lyle Hoyt. This was a very special event for Joe. Four hundred dairymen gathered at Joe’s Dairy to listen and learn from one of the foremost milk producers in the nation. From that day forward, Joe began to host tours of his Duarte-Acres Holsteins on a regular basis. Guest would come from all corners of the world to learn from one of the best dairymen in the world. Annually, over 1500 visitors would be treated to a tour of Duarte-Acres.

On November 12, 1972, Joe received a telegram from Ford Motor Company letting him know that they had selected Joe as Ford’s 1973 Farm Efficiency Award Winner. This was an award that Joe held in very high esteem. Ford flew Joe and Mary first class to their manufacturing facility in Detroit. It was an incredible accomplishment that Ford recognized Joe’s many innovations to “American Agriculture” and Joe, being a humble man, was so honored. Joe talked often about this cherished award.

In 1974 the Turlock Chamber of Commerce awarded Joe as their Livestock Man of the Year. Joe and Mary were the Honorees at the parade and were driven throughout Turlock’s’ downtown Main Street in a convertible. They were treated as VIPs in their beloved town of Turlock.

Joe and Mary were active members at Sacred Heart Parish and devout Catholics. A new church was commissioned to be built and in 1970 Father Alvernaz tasked Joe as the Chairman of the Dairy Division in the fund-raising efforts. After Joe finished his chores on his dairy, he would meet with his dairymen neighbors working diligently to bring in donations for the new Catholic Church. Joe’s Dairy Division would bring in over $300K (which was more donations than the totality of all the other sectors combined.) A truly commendable effort. The new Sacred Heart Church in Turlock owes a great gratitude to Joe Duarte.
Joe and Mary’s three daughters attended Sacred Heart Church and Joe volunteered as the 4-H Dairy Leader for a decade. He started as Dairy Leader in 1970 when his three daughters were all showing Holsteins and remained Dairy leader until Eileen’s last year in 4-H in 1980. Joe truly enjoyed being Dairy Leader. Sacred Heart 4-H Dairy Club became well known at Stanislaus County Fair. Under Joe’s Leadership, Sacred Heart would win Clean Barn Award year after year. Joe placed a high level of standard to presentation. With Joe’s excellent eye for cattle, Sacred Heart 4-H Dairy Club would win Club Group multiple years (the award that all the other 4-H dairy clubs competed to win.) The 4-H years brought Joe many years of fun times. He would nighthawk the Club’s cattle (staying up all night before show day) keeping the cattle in his Club spotless so that the little showmen would arrive the morning of show day in their whites with their cattle kept spotlessly clean under Joe’s watch and ready for the ring.

Joe was widely recognized throughout the years of showing their impressive purebred Holstein cattle and he would look forward to helping his three daughters at the local County Fair; the State Fair; the Black & White Shows; the Western National and later at the top echelon of Dairy Cattle competition, the World Dairy Expo. Joe always made time for his daughters and helped them all throughout their lives.

Joe met many of his longtime, dear friends during the 4-H years and through his association with the Holstein Association. His dear friend, the late Bernard Souza, encouraged he and Mary to start attending the National Holstein Association’s Annual Convention and Joe would serve as a Delegate representing California for numerous years. Joe and Mary along with their three daughters would attend the National Holstein Conventions held all throughout the USA. It became the family’s’ annual summer vacation which were filled with happy memories. Not to mention the many summer trips to Santa Cruz, vacations to Disneyland and a first-class holiday taking his family to see their homeland, The Azores and Portugal.

Joe’s resume and list of achievements themselves tell the story that he was a man highly respected by his peers in the dairy industry and his community. In 1958-1963 Joe was President of Stanislaus County DHI; 1970-75 President Western United Dairyman; 1974-1980 Director California State Holstein Assoc.; 1974-82 Director Consolidated Dairyman Assoc.; 1980-1982 Board VP California State Holstein Assoc.; 1982-1984 President California State Holstein Assoc.; 1983 Director United Dairyman Assoc.; 1983 Elected on the Board of Modesto Production Credit (MPC); 1986 Chairman MPC; 1987 Chairman Central Valley Production Credit; 1988-1990 Elected on Board of California Cooperative Creamery (California Gold Creamery); 1992 Elected on Board of Western United Dairyman; 1998-2000 Elected on Board of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA); 1985 Joe was named Stanislaus Holstein Association Breeder of the Year; in 1987 Joe was honored with the California Holstein Association’s Senior Breeder Award. In 1990, the Stanislaus Holstein Show was dedicated in his honor for Joe’s work and dedication to the county.

When Joe and Mary were newly married, he promised his Bride that he would take her “traveling around the world” and Joe, a man of his word, lived up to that promise. Together they would travel throughout the entire US (visiting 47 of our 50 great United States) and internationally. Their first international trip was in 1971 which took them to Italy, France, Portugal, the Azores, and Madeira. They traveled to Portugal and Azores a total of four times; A total of five trips to Paris and visited Great Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, China, and Hong Kong.

Taking a total of 20 cruises, their cruise adventures took them to Alaska, Scandinavian Countries, Russia, Panama, Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Mexico, Bahamas, South America, Argentina, Chile, twice to Australia and New Zealand as they traveled on Queen Mary II’s inaugural voyage as well as on the Queen Victoria.

Joe leaves behind his three daughters, Kathleen (Ken) Elliott; Irene (Dwayne) Nelson; and Eileen Duarte. He proudly spoke of his five grandchildren Michelle (Gino) Pedretti; Brian (Erin) Nelson; Brent (Caitlyn) Nelson; Amber Elliott and Laura (David) Tresslar. And cherished the memories with his seven great grandchildren Mikayla, Nolan and Kaylee Pedretti; Annabella, Clara and Daphne Nelson; and Luke Nelson. His sister-in-law Evelyn Luis, his many loving nieces, nephews and close cousins. Joe is preceded in death by his beloved wife Mary who passed away on 9/22/21. His sister Mary Pasqual, brother Tony Duarte, Father Antone Duarte and Mother Alexandrina Duarte.

Our Family would like to say a special “thank you” and offer our sincerest gratitude for the special care provided to both our parents by their caregiver Maria Antoinette Batista. It was with Antoinette’s loving care that we were able to spend these precious years with our Mom and Dad. Dad so enjoyed the friendship he had with Antoinette and the two shared much laughter and treasured conversations.

To Dad’s close dairymen friends whose group met once a month to enjoy lunch together and share dairy stories and current events, our family thanks you. Dad so looked forward to these monthly Men’s Luncheon.

To Dad’s family and friends who took time to visit Dad and offer company to him in the months since our mom passed away, we thank you.

A Rosary will be held on Monday August 8th at 10:00 am at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turlock followed with a Mass. The family invites all to join them for lunch at the Turlock Pentecost Hall immediately following Mass.

Gifts of remembrance in the name of “Joe A. Duarte” can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (

Dad, may you rest peacefully now. You worked hard throughout your life. You are the finest example of a “Self-Made Man.” You made a positive impact in this world. We know you and mom are together again and you Both Will Forever Be Missed. You are the very Best Dad. We Love You.

Scroll to Top