Robert Rumler, long-time Holstein Executive Secretary and dedicated dairy industry leader passed away on January 10, 2010; he was 93 years old. Rumler served as Executive Secretary of the Holstein Friesian Association (now Holstein USA) from 1952 to 1975. In 1976, Rumler was elevated to the position of Executive Chairman. The Holstein breed's influence grew a great deal under his leadership. By the time Rumler retired, over 75 percent of the registered dairy cattle in the U.S. were Holstein. During his tenure, active membership in the Holstein Friesian Association grew from 15,000 to 27,000 with total membership in excess of 40,000. During his tenure in the mid-1970s, the Holstein Friesian Association installed a computer center and became the largest single source of genetic data and information on the Holstein breed in the world.
Born and raised on a Pennsylvania dairy farm, Rumler graduated with honors from Penn State University in 1936. After graduation, he went on to serve as assistant county agent in Missouri. Some 18 months later he came to back Pennsylvania, he became the youngest man to ever be named county agent in the history of the Pennsylvania Extension Service; it was a role he held for nearly eight years. His next challenge was serving three years as editor and assistant manager of the agricultural promotion division of Dupont before he was named, in 1948, as assistant Executive Secretary of the Holstein Friesian Association of America.
Rumler gave a great deal of his time to other dairy organizations. In 1967, he was selected by the USDA as one of four advisors to the newly appointed Joint Task Force on Dairy Research. The very next year, he was elected President of National Dairy Shrine. Rumler also served as an officer and director of the National Society of Livestock Record Associations. He also provided leadership to the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association and was an original member of the National DHIA coordinating group. In 1976, Rumler was named National Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor and in 1979 he received World Dairy Expo's Industry Person of the Year Award. In 1996, Rumler also received World Dairy Expo's International Person of the Year making him the only person to win two of World Dairy Expo's recognition awards.
In 1974, Rumler agreed to co-chair the fundraising committee with Robert Walton for National Dairy Shrine's permanent home in Fort Atkinson, Wis. At the National Dairy Shrine's dedication on September 29, 1981, Rumler said, "What you see today in this permanent home of the Shrine is a museum with a perspective of the future. It is a building, an exhibit hall, filled with memorabilia of the past, reminding us of how far our industry has come. It pictures those leaders who made the industry what it is today. It provides a suggestion of what is yet to come while we both see and hear the fascinating saga of the evolution of our industry."