BOILING SPRINGS, Pa. — The Pennsylvania dairy industry is known to be one of the largest and most vibrant in the nation. One 82-year-old Pennsylvania Holstein breeder is widely known as the joyful, energetic, good-cow-loving grandfather of the state’s dairy young people, specifically those involved with the Penn State Nittany Lion Fall Classic.
The name Creedin Cornman, a.k.a. Creedie, brings smiles to the faces of the of people he’s touched over the years. From local to international cow shows, to the Nittany Lion Fall Classic sale and the Pennsylvania Holstein Association’s annual convention, Cornman has seen and done it all.
But it all began in the spring of 1930 when he was born the third of five children to Clarence and Anna Cornman. The family had a dairy farm just outside Mechanicsburg, Pa.
“When I was little, all I wanted was to be in the barn with the cows. I knew all their names,” Cornman said. “I always had this goal to breed a herd of Holstein cows.”
Clarence was one of the original founders of the Carlisle Fair and it was the first fair that Creedie got involved with. He fondly remembers one evening when he was washing has baby beef, “One girl asked if I need help and I said, 'Yeah.’ The girl was Ellen Westbook and she was (to become) my helper for 56 years.”
During his senior year at Mechanicsburg High School, he attended 4-H State Days at Penn State where he placed third in dairy judging. He then landed a spot on the state FFA judging team with Ray Seidel and George Ott.
This trip to Penn State was more than just a judging trip. It started a deep, fond passion for the school, and turned his blood “blue and white” — but this passion wasn’t fully recognized until a little later in his life.
On the way to Waterloo, Iowa, for the national dairy judging competition (where the team placed third), Cornman discovered the name for his future dairy farm. On the drive, they came across Cresta-Beauty Holsteins and Just-A-Farm. Hence, the future Justa Beauty Holsteins was born.
After graduation in 1948, Cornman began taking short courses at Penn State. Two of the courses were milk testing and forage and grain.
In 1950, the Cornman family moved their herd to Boiling Springs, Pa., onto a 150-acre farm. Cornman, his two brothers and father partnered in the business.
Cornman and his “helper” took their wedding vows in 1951 and started Justa Beauty Holsteins in 1952 on a farm at Forage Road, just outside Boiling Springs.
“Ellen had Ayrshires and we sold them to buy milkers. We had chickens, sold the eggs, had a big garden I brought eight or 10 cows from home and then we bought three or four registered Holsteins,” he said.
His dream of breeding a registered Holstein herd was beginning to take shape.
Then came the family — and the ever-growing family tree that bears the Cornman name and touches many facets of the Pennsylvania agriculture community.
Creedie and Ellen had two children, Steve and Sharon. Steve attended Delaware Valley College and after graduation in 1976, moved to Fresno, Calif., with his wife, Deb. Deb is editor of Pa. Holstein Profiles.
While in California, they worked on Producers Dairy. Steve was an assistant herdsman. They blessed Creedie and Ellen with two grandchildren, Rebecca and Aaron.
Rebecca is married to Jeremy Daubert, from Victory Acres Brown Swiss, and they also have two children, Hayley and Trey. The family of four lives in Myerstown, Pa., and Jeremy works for Moyer-Dale Farm.
Despite Creedie’s Penn State nudges, Aaron attended Virginia Tech for dairy science and was part of their dairy judging team. He now lives in Union County, Pa., and works for Select Sire Power. He, his wife, Lisa, and son, Ben, also operate a 70-cow dairy — the revived Justa Beauty.
Sharon also blessed Creedie and Ellen with three more grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
Cornman’s dream of owning and breeding outstanding Holsteins took a step forward in 1954 when Creedie and his father visited Vista Grande farm with the intent on purchasing a bull. After looking through the barns, Cornman decided that he wanted a heifer calf. The only one available for purchase at the time was named Gracious and priced at $300.
“There was almost a divorce in the house” when he came home with that calf, he chuckled.
Gracious had a productive life at Justa Beauty and was classified twice Excellent-91.
Shortly after this earth-shattering purchase, he attended a sale at Vista Grande and purchased a sister to Gracious. Queen ended up being three-time scored Excellant-92 cow for Cornman.
“Cows that I’m showing now are 15 or 16 generations from those cows. I’ve bred close to 75 excellents with my prefix,” he said.
Cornman’s dairy interests and judging history led him to the Pennsylvania Purebred Dairy Cattle Association’s judging school in 1966. After getting his certification, the first dairy show he judged was the Dauphin County Holstein Show. Since then, he’s placed animals of all breeds from local fairs to district 4-H shows to state fairs. At his peak, he averaged seven or eight fairs per year.
Like most dairy farmers, Cornman started experiencing physical ailments in the 1980s. Because his shoulders starting giving him problems, Steve, Deb and their family moved back to the area in 1981 to help continue Justa Beauty.
With Steve’s return, Creedie was left with some spare time on his hands. So he joined the Middleton Fire and Ambulance Association. In 1986, he became the treasurer and held that title for 13 years.
“I took training to be a full-time ambulance driver. I had a fear of fire before I became a first responder,” he said.
Cornman is also a member of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1955, he became the secretary of Sunday school, a position he still holds today.
Additionally, he was the president of the Cumberland County Extension Association, held all the offices in the county Holstein club, and was a 4-H leader for 27 years.
In 1988, Steve got the opportunity to move the herd to Newville, Pa., and work on another farm. After the move, the only cows was left at the farm were Rebecca’s 4-H animals.
Besides those few animals, the barn remained dormant until it was destroyed by an arson fire in 1995. Creedie and Ellen then decided to sell the property and move.
The house Cornman lives in today sits just down the road from the original Justa Beauty property.
In addition to all the community and family activities Cornman was a part of, he acquired a new annual “commitment” in 1992 — the Nittany Lion Fall Classic (NLFC). Cornman’s Penn State passion was beginning to come full circle.
“I’ll never forget the day Dave Lentz called. It was the day of my mother’s funeral,” he said.
Unaware of the days events, Lentz was calling to ask him “to help at NLFC the first time. I must also acknowledge (Thomas) 'Moss' McCauley. (He) and I hatched the plan. As Creedie would tell the story, I called to ask him to help teach us PSU students about getting cattle prepared for the sale. ... He was, as expected, having a downer’ kind of day when I called, but he quickly warmed to the idea and accepted,” Lentz said. “He has thanked me over and over for the opportunity.”
So starting in the fall of 1992, Cornman attended the annual event each year until 2005 when his wife started experiencing health issues. After her death in 2007, Cornman made a return to the sale.
Each year, he comes up mid-week and is in the barn before sunrise and stays until after dark each day. He offers advice on everything from the sale order to bagging times and everything in-between. On sale day, he’s a fixture behind the curtain, assisting in animal preparation when needed and keeping tabs on the sale prices.
While in State College, Cornman has a permanent reservation at the Alpha Zeta Fraternity house. They have a guest room that he stays in all week, not to mention all the home-cooked meals he can eat.
“It’s a wonderful experience. I’ve made friends with so many outstanding people. They’re my kids and grandkids No matter where I’m at, they all come and say thank you,” he added.
“He and I have been friends a long time. It is amazing that with his age difference in relation to the rest of us how he is capable to understand and relate to everyone younger than him,” Lentz added. “He has been an example of honesty, integrity, kindness, and positive thinking to me and countless others in this industry. We need more Creedie’s in this industry and the world.”
Cornman is a staple at yet another annual dairy event. Each year he is part of Patricia Hushon’s crew for the Premier National Junior Shows during the All-American Dairy Show. He assists with checking the animals in and serves as a ring man for the junior Holstein show. Additionally, he records class placings for the Pennsylvania Fall Holstein Championship Show.
However, Cornman’s most easily recognizable position during the week is behind the steering wheel of his trusty golf cart. Because the Farm Show Complex is a rather large building to navigate, Cornman zooms around in his cart from ring to ring, never missing a beat, often called a “railbird” for his seemingly constant presence at ringside.
“There is not a finer gentleman of his incredible character. He gives of his time, his knowledge, his experience, but most of all his love for the dairy industry through his guidance and assistance for generations of young people. I could not imagine a Premier National Junior Show without him. He is truly one of a kind and I am fortunate to be called his friend,” Hushon said.
Hushon also noted that Cornman and his long-time friend Fred Strouse are her “left arm” during show week, while three other helpers are her “right arm.”
On top of all that, he was named the Penn State Dairy Science Club Dedicatee in 1995 Dairyman, the club’s yearbook, and was inducted into the Pennsylvania Dairy Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2005 he received the Obie Snider Award at the All-American Dairy Show. He has also received multiple All-Pennsylvania awards for his animals.
Despite being 82, Cornman is still in fairly good health and his “new” knees help to get him to wherever the cows are. He plans to be volunteering at this year’s All American and giving advice at Fall Classic.
Age is never going to keep this great-grandfather away from the action.
Partnerships Make the World Go Round
GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Rarely do you hear of an agriculture enterprise that operates with one sole person. There’s generally some sort of partnership needed to make it a success.
Creedin Cornman may not be an enterprise, but he needs partners too.
Once the milking animals left his dairy farm, Justa Beauty Holsteins, in 1988, Cornman found himself in a slightly odd predicament. Always interested in showing his animals and not being able to do it on his own, he determined that he needed a partner.
Enter Deanna and Dale Bendig of Spungold Holsteins. Prior to 1988, Cornman knew each of them individually because of the show circuit. He always admired them for their work ethic and passion for quality Holsteins.
So Cornman approached the Bendigs with a proposal — they would own half of any cow he had as long as the Bendig’s supplied the housing. And thus, the JB-SG partnership was born.
The JB-SG prefix is most recently recognized in conjunction with the name Dakota. JB-SG Aspen Dakota, scored Excellant-94, is the reigning two-time Pennsylvania Farm Show supreme champion.
While Deanna does all of the showing, Cornman is never far way. This railbird makes sure to be in attendance at all Dakota’s outings.
“He’s a great partner. He knows a lot about cows, cows back in the day. We’re working with families that he bred. Everything bred here at our farm went excellent,” Deanna said.
While attending shows alongside the Bendigs is a major part of Cornman’s life, he has yet another partner — Fred Strouse. After meeting Strouse at dairy shows over the years, they gradually became close friends and made it a habit to attend shows together.
Since the start of the All-American’s Premier National Junior Dairy Show, the pair has been working together as part of Patricia Hushon’s “Team Patti.”
“We help check animals in. On Monday (during the junior Holstein show), Fred is the ring man and I check the animals in,” Cornman said.
However, 2011 may have been the last time this dynamic duo worked the ring together. After attending World Dairy Expo in October of last year, Strouse suffered a stroke.
“Freddie has been improving very slowly as the stroke was severe, and he suffered one a couple of years ago. I do not know if he will make it to Harrisburg or not. It is hard to imagine going into Harrisburg without him. He means that much to the junior national shows.,” Hushon said.
Even though his trusty sidekick might not be in attendance, Cornman is planning on helping at this year’s show. When not assisting Hushon, he will be beside his cows in the Bendig show string.
Editor’s note: Dale and Deanna Bendig are selling most of their herd on Nov. 17, at a sale on their farm, Spungold Holsteins — 199 Woodside Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325.