Sunday, August 24, 2008

Passing of Individuals Marks Passing of an Era

Update on 8/28/08: Lee Majeskie's obituary and a slideshow of pictures can be found on our department's website.

I just distributed the following to the virtual community of dairy professionals we call "Dairy-L."

"Dear Friends,

"It is my sad duty to share with you the news that Dr. J. Lee Majeskie died of a heart attack on Friday night, 22 August 2008. He had retired recently and held the rank of Associate Professor Emeritus and Extension Specialist in the Department of Animal & Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland at the time of his death.

"Lee was born and raised on a dairy farm near Pewaukee, WI and he received his BS and MS degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He received his Ph.D. degree in animal genetics from Kansas State University in 1970. Lee served as Director of Program Development for the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association until 1975, when he joined the faculty in the Department of Dairy Science at the University of Maryland. Lee worked with the DHI program statewide, regionally and nationally and aided in a number of youth 4-H programs.

"Accomplishments include coaching the Maryland 4-H dairy cattle judging team for 25 years, placing in the top three nationally 18 times during those 25 years and winning the contest five times. Living in a small state with increasing urbanization, Dr. Majeskie initiated a dairy leasing program that allowed non-farm 4-H youth to lease a dairy animal and participate in dairy projects, including showing. This leasing program celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008. Dr. Majeskie also taught courses on campus and was the faculty adviser for the Animal Husbandry Club for a number of years. The Club hosts dairy/swine/beef/sheep shows that form the foundation of a college-wide 'county-fair like event' each April that was called Ag Day, allowing dozens of undergraduates to gain meaningful large-animal handling experience annually. Ag Day has evolved into a campus-wide event called Maryland Day, which attracts over 50,000 people to campus each year.

"Dr. Majeskie received two prestigious awards recently. He received the American Dairy Science Ass'n Award of Honor at their annual meeting this summer, and he was inducted to the Maryland Dairy Shrine this spring. He has also received numerous honors and awards over the years from 4-H and various dairy cattle organizations.

"Details of memorial services are not available to me at this time, and interested individuals can contact me privately. Cards of condolences can go to Lee's widow at the address below.

[contact me privately at to get the widow's contact info}

"Sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings this day. Kindest regards to each of you."

I worked with Lee for about 25 years in the Department, and we traveled together in-state often. There was a time when animal/dairy science departments in Land-Grant universities all had tenure-track faculty members who were responsible for and took active participation in 4-H youth programs. While there are a few people left around the US in those positions, most academic departments are not hiring people in tenure-track roles to fill these service roles.

Whether that's right or wrong is a story for another date/time. Let's just say that Lee's death has symbolic significance besides loss for his widow and son.

Hope that helps.



Matt said...

Thank you, Mark. He was and always will be my Hero.

-Matt Majeskie

DairyScienceMark said...

Hi Matt, Hope to see you on Friday.