May 8 2017 09:46 AM

Doris Hetts was a driving force in creating World Dairy Expo.

Rodney, Doris, and Roy Hetts gathered at the base of the Coliseum in 2014 before the celebration of the 50th World Dairy Expo.

If Allen Hetts was the founding father of World Dairy Expo, then certainly his wife, Doris, could be considered a founding mother providing undaunting support to Allen, the family’s Crescent Beauty Farm, and World Dairy Expo. This past weekend, Doris passed away after witnessing the celebration of the 50th year of the show that they worked so hard to make a reality.

Doris was one of the few people who attended all 50 World Dairy Expos, but she was also one of the first to believe and invest in Allen’s dream to bring an international show to Madison, Wis.

As Allen worked to bring a large dairy event to Wisconsin on the tails of the faltering Dairy Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa, Doris either wrote or typed every stitch of Allen’s correspondence and did whatever she could to make the burgeoning show a reality. That included leveraging the family farm to financially back the show.

Perhaps one of the best examples of that “whatever it takes attitude” was revealed in an interview preceding the writing of the 50th anniversary book, We Need a Show. In the early years of Expo, there was a significant push to make the show an international event. Doris for her part contributed to the efforts to bring in international attendees by writing individual letters to each of the presidents and executive secretaries of the Holstein organizations throughout the world.

Doris was named National Dairy Woman of the year in 1985 for her work on her family's Crescent Beauty Farms and their dedication to the dairy industry and establishing World Dairy Expo.
“I asked why don’t we see if they had a list of all the presidents and executive secretaries of all the countries that had a Holstein organizations,” said Doris. “I was quite shocked when I was sent the list and it was quite long.”

Why did she volunteer to do it?

“I don’t know where I got the idea to write the countries; I just did it,” she explained.

It was that attitude of doing whatever it took to make the show happen that solidified its presence for 50 years as one of the premier dairy events.

Her contributions did not go unnoticed by Expo throughout the years, and Doris was named the 1985 National Dairy Woman by World Dairy Expo. That award also recognized her role on the farm as a full partner in Crescent Beauty Farms. Alongside her husband, Allen, and sons, Roy and Rodney, Doris kept the financial, herd health, breeding, and production records that made the farm a reality. The family gave graciously of their time to many causes. They hosted Japanese trainees, busloads of visitors, judging teams, and 4-H groups.

While Allen spent a great deal of time the first few years of the show promoting it and showing at it, Doris kept the home farm running. This was especially true during Expo.

Doris said of Expo, “I was hardly at the show. I was the gopher to keep things going at home and shuffling the Japanese trainees back and forth because they all wanted to be over there.”

But every moment and every effort was worth it for the dairy mom. She was happy to do what she could to make their farm, family, and World Dairy Expo itself a success

Rest in peace, Doris. We are forever indebted to your vision.

Maggie Seiler
The author is an associate editor. She covers feeding and nutrition, youth activities and heads up the World Dairy Expo Supplement. Maggie was raised on a 150-cow dairy near Valley Center, Kansas, and graduated from Kansas State University with degrees in agricultural communications and animal sciences.