Wendy Alexaander/The Madera Tribune
Madera 2017 Senior Farmer Mitch Lasgoity and his wife, Rosemary, are surrounded by their children and grandchildren following the dinner Thursday.
The Madera Chamber of Commerce honored Mitch Lasgoity at its annual Senior Farmer dinner celebrating both the future and past of farming Thursday evening in St. Andrews Ballroom at Madera Municipal Golf Course.
Lasgoity and his wife, Rosemary, were showered with accolades, flowers, declarations and plaques from state and local government agencies commemorating their stewardship of the land.
The focus of the evening was the opportunity for friends, family and colleagues to laud the Lasgoity family and its patriarch for being a lifelong cattleman, sheep herder and diversified grower of grapes, almonds, stone fruit and many other crops.
His civic service includes Madera Rotary, Madera County Farm Bureau and both the Madera County and California State cattlemen’s associations.
Rick Cosyns introduced the honoree and gave a brief biography of the Lasgoity family. Cosyns is the son of 2009 Senior Farmer Albert Cosyns, who was a neighbor of the Lasgoity family for more than 50 years. The elder Cosyns nominated Lasgoity for the chamber honor.
“Speaking with his children, I asked them what they had learned from their father,” said Rick Cosyns. “Son Jim said he was grateful his dad was hard on them growing up because it helped them prepare for life. His daughter Monica said her father told her to forever sail her own ship and to never sell the land.”
Mitch Lasgoity told his son John to always let his fight be with the banks, because they are the ones who make all the money off you. Always pay vendors and contractors because they are one’s business partners.
Daughter Michele’s fondest memories of her father include riding through countryside tending their flocks of sheep and herds of beef cattle together.
The floor was thrown open to other to share memories and anecdotes of Lasgoity.
Johnny Deniz, 2010 Senior Farmer, explained he has been friends with the Lasgoity family for many decades and they had travelled through Europe several times together. “Many times I tried to pick Mitch’s brain to find out how he became so successful at ranching and farming, but his mind is much stronger than mine,” he said.
Deniz said he would bring crates of apricots to his friends during harvest. “I was always afraid if I didn’t bring the apricots I wouldn’t have any friends,” Deniz joked.
“Mitch it has been an honor and a pleasure being your friend,” he said.
Ellington Peek, a longtime business associate, came from Shasta to honor his friend. “We went through a lot of bankers together,” said Peek. “Mitch is a shrewd businessman, one tough guy and a big-time gambler.”
In his closing remarks, Rick Cosyns said it is important how people are remembered. Cosyns said, “I learned at an early age if you were going to hang around Mitch’s neighborhood you better be prepared to make something of yourself. No slackers allowed,” he said.
He spoke of how if you had never seen them practicing their faith then you never went to the 6:30 a.m. Mass at St. Joachim.
“Mitch and Rosemary you have left an indelible mark on this community and we will be eternally grateful to you,” he said.
The future of agriculture was represented at the event with the introduction of the 2017 chamber annual Salute to Ag scholarship to Kaylin McKinney. She is the great-granddaughter of J.E. McKinney, the 1990 Senior Farmer, and is also the great-niece of Billy McKinney, the 2008 recipient. She is pursuing a degree in ag-business.
Additional proclamations came as Madera City Councilman Will Oliver and Mayor Pro Tem Cecelia Foley Gallegos declared the day of the 2017 Senior Farmer Dinner as Mitch Lasgoity Day in Madera.
State Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-5th District, and former sheriff John Anderson (representing Sen. Anthony Canella, R-12th District) presented the family with a resolution from the state.
David Ylarregui and Keith Hesterberg, of sponsors Fresno Madera Farm Credit, presented its perpetual plaque and photo of the Senior Farmer to hang in the chamber office for the next year.