March 31 2010 07:04 AM


W.D. Knox was a scholar and gentleman who guided an international dairy magazine for six decades and served as an adviser on agricultural and trade issues to six presidents.

"Bill" Knox was editor and publisher of Hoard's Dairyman, as well as president of W.D. Hoard & Sons Co. in Fort Atkinson, parent company of the Daily Jefferson County Union until 2005 at the age of 85.

His first experience in journalism came while in high school in Sault Ste. Marie when he served as editor of the high school paper. Always the scholar, he was a member of the National Honor Society, graduating from high school at 15. Since he could not enter college until age 16, he spent the next 15 months farming with his father and running a milk delivery route.

One of his largest undertakings while in college was the establishment of a permanent 4-H camp for the State of Michigan, Camp Shaw, in 1938. Also while in college, he was a member of the Dairy, Agriculture, Economics and 4-H clubs and of the Michigan State dairy cattle judging team.

He was recognized for his scholastic achievements, being elected to Alpha Zeta, a national honorary agricultural fraternity in his sophomore year. He also was initiated into Alpha Gamma Rho, a national agricultural fraternity, serving as its vice noble ruler, noble ruler and pledge chairman. He also was named to the Blue Key national junior and Excalibur senior honorary societies.

Active in school politics, Knox was elected junior class president at Michigan State. He served on the Agricultural Council for four years and was a member of the university student council and the lecture course board. Knox graduated at age 20 with a degree in agricultural economics and dairy in 1941. His alma mater recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1966.

In 1941, Knox joined the Hoard's Dairyman staff as youth editor. Knox enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 and was awarded a year of study at the Harvard Graduate School of Business under a program to train officers to coordinate the conversion of manufacturing plants to war material production.

After serving in the Atlantic, ferrying troops to North Africa, he was stationed for a short period at the Algiers, Louisiana, naval yard, and then went to the Pacific Theatre aboard the USS Achelous. When the war ended, he was off the coast of Korea, involved in the staging for the invasion of Japan. He was discharged as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Following the war, Knox rejoined Hoard's Dairyman as associate editor. In 1949, at the age of 29, he became the third editor of the twice monthly magazine, following in the footsteps of dairy industry pioneers W.D. Hoard, who founded the magazine in 1885 and served as editor until his death in 1918, and A.J. Glover, who served as editor from 1918-49.

Through his editorial leadership, Knox became nationally prominent. He was founding chairman, secretary and president of the National Brucellosis Committee and chairman of the Wisconsin Brucellosis Committee. Wisconsin, in 1956, was the first major livestock state in the nation to be declared free of brucellosis, a cattle disease that is known as Undulant Fever when it is passed to humans.

In 1971, Knox was selected by President Nixon to advise the administration on economic stabilization and international balance of payments. He was appointed by President Gerald Ford, in 1976, to the Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations to counsel the President and Congress on the Tokyo Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and was re-appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

Late in the Eisenhower administration Knox was asked to be undersecretary of agriculture, which he declined. In 1968, during the Wisconsin presidential primary, he was asked by the Johnson administration to become secretary of agriculture. He again declined. Three weeks later, Johnson withdrew from the presidential race.

Knox arranged the launch of Japanese and Spanish language versions of the magazine. Hoard's Dairyman today has subscribers in nearly 100 foreign countries.

In 1985, he was presented the Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Economic Contribution Award. The honor recognized his leadership as Hoard's Dairyman editor and for his efforts in local fund-raising drives, including those for the Dwight Foster Public Library renovation, and his work to secure Fort Atkinson as the site of the National Dairy Shrine.

He also was named National Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor in 1967; American Jersey Cattle Club Honorary member in 1968; World Dairy Expo Man of the Year in 1970 and American Dairy Science Association Distinguished Service Award recipient, both in 1970.