Saying Goodbye To A Legend

The Wisconsin Pork Association is sad to announce the passing of Hilman B. Schroeder, age 84, of Sauk City.

Hilman was a true leader and trailblazer of the swine industry. Mike Wehler, a close friend, recounts the influence Hilman had on him and the industry.

“Hilman called me one day and asked me why I was wasting my time serving on a county farm organization board. After reacting to his question, he then told me I should run for a position on the Wisconsin Pork Producer Board,” Wehler remembers. “It usually didn’t pay to argue with Hilman, so I did and was soon elected to the Board.”

Hilman was one of the original board members of WPPA and one of the Moline 90 that laid the groundwork for the National Pork Producers Organization.

He played significant roles in establishing the national and state pork organizations. He didn’t seek to lead either organization until 1990 when he became president of the National Pork Board. The national pork organizations were struggling in those early years to define roles. NPPC owned the building and NPB employed most of its former staff.

His unique style of explaining to USDA bureaucrats how pork producers and the government could work together helped establish the early format for both organizations.

He was instrumental in helping the board highlight the need for the industry and move the project from the bottom of the UW priority list to the top of the legislature list. It ended up having a higher priority than most other UW Systems projects because leaders like Hilman donated their time to explain the importance of applied research to Wisconsin producers.

Hilman also played an important role in establishing the Pork Industry Fund in Wisconsin. This demonstrated to government leaders that the industry would support raising money to promote the
swine industry in Wisconsin. The fund raised close to $200,000 to promote the industry through research and scholarships that are still available today.

National Hog Farmer named Hilman as one of the “50 most influential leaders” in the industry. He’s also both an NPPC and Wisconsin State Fair Hall-of-Famer.

“The list of Hilman’s accomplishments is long and influential, but what I will remember is his unique style
and his ability to look at the pedigree of a hog,” Wehler says. “I believe he was one of the best swine geneticists in the country when it came to breeding hogs even though he never took a genetics class. He was a top exhibitor at the National Barrow Show before his 20th birthday.”

He served as president of the Wisconsin Agri-Business Council, earned CALS honors, and earned the title of Wisconsin Master Agriculturist.

“Hilman will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on for generations to come,” says the Wisconsin Pork Association.

Hilman’s visitation is Feb. 22 from 3-6 p.m. at Hooverson Funeral Home, 251 Water St., Sauk City.