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  • Megan Silveira, associate editor

Welcome to the Balcony

Jerry Cassady says goodbye to the Angus office. 

“When Jerry was asked to share a little bit about himself and his time with the Angus breed, he kept his answers pretty brief. Does that surprise you?”

Jerry Cassady let his actions speak for themselves during his 30 years at the American Angus Association. In light of his recent retirement from his role as director of member services, that question was asked three times; and three times it was answered nearly the same. 

Levi Landers outright laughed and shook his head. 

Gayla Fuston smiled and confessed it’s exactly what she would expect. 

Esther Tarpoff just offered a grin. 

“Jerry is a man of few words,” Tarpoff says, “but when Jerry talks, you listen.”

To all three, that’s what made Cassady so special. For the last three decades, Landers says Cassady has served the membership with a quiet confidence.

Tarpoff says he’s a man of integrity, and one she’s going to miss seeing every day in Angus headquarters. 

“Jerry was not just a co-worker,” Fuston adds. “Jerry was a friend.” 

Angus through and through

Cassady grew up on a diversified livestock farm in central Illinois. 4-H and FFA jump-started his passion for showing cattle. Eventually he found his way to team Angus. 

In 1992 Cassady joined the American Angus Association as the regional manager in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, a role he served in for 22 years. For the past 8 years he was director of member services. 

Cassady says his favorite days were the ones with good conversation — whether it was in the pasture studying calves with members, collaborating with his team as a regional manager or working directly with the member services team in Saint Joseph. 

“Before eight o’clock, before we really got started, he would come over to our area and just visit and laugh and joke and have a good time — check on everybody, basically,” Fuston, Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) customer service team lead, explains. 

It’s been a ritual she’s come to happily expect since Cassady first joined the staff in office.

Landers says Cassady’s welcoming attitude isn’t just office etiquette, however. He met Cassady in 2004 at the National Western Stock Show, before Landers ever knew he too would one day be employed at the Association. 

“I had just started my career at the Western Ag Reporter,” Landers recalls. “Jerry was very eager to meet me as brand new to the industry, and he welcomed me in, made sure I was included on things.”

A mentorship was formed. 

“From that point, the way he interacted with other breeders and the respect he commanded when he was around his fellow co-workers — he’s always been an inspiration to me,” Landers describes. 

Fifteen years later, when Landers was walking through the Association’s doors to interview for a regional manager position of his own, he was met by a familiar face. 

“Jerry Cassady was standing at the top of the stairs,” Landers says, noting how a kind smile instantly calmed his nerves. 

It’s one of his favorite memories of Cassady. 

Tarpoff’s recollections of Cassady stem back the longest. As a youngster hitting the show ring for the first time, she says regional manager Cassady always created a safe space for questions. When she transitioned into her role as director of performance programs at the Association, that still rang true. 

“‘Just keep asking; you’re not going to learn otherwise,’” Tarpoff quotes. 

Though their relationship has spanned 20 years, Tarpoff says Cassady has been consistent. 

“He’s very much a man of integrity,” she adds. “He’s just kind of a salt-of-the-earth person. You know what you’re going to get. It doesn’t come better than Jerry.” 

While professionalism was synonymous with Cassady’s name, Fuston says he was also known for his passion for the Angus breed. Historical tidbits, members’ backgrounds, animal pedigrees — he knows it all and shares with many. 

Cassady also has a reputation for going above and beyond, not just for breeders, but for his staff. 

“I feel like he’s been a mentor and a leader and a model to us,” Fuston explains. “You always just knew he had your back. You didn’t ever have to question it or doubt it or wonder.” 

Even as he says goodbye, Cassady thinks of the people he’ll miss. 

“Serving the membership and networking with breeders on a daily basis was very rewarding, however the relationships developed with fellow regional managers and the member services team make my departure more difficult,” Cassady says. “I would simply like to thank the members of the American Angus Association who I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years and have them know how valued these relationships are to me.” 

Despite his brevity when speaking of his career, the relationships Cassady made speak volumes. 

Tarpoff confidently says he’s one of her “balcony people” — individuals who are always there to cheer you on. 

 “Jerry is definitely one of those people for me, and he will continue to be,” she says.  

Though he offers a humble bow to the Angus stage, for many, that balcony spot will always be his.  


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