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SF Blog: A Life as a Successful Farmer

We get calls, emails, and letters every day here at Successful Farming magazine, and many contain unusual requests. Robert Spellerberg’s recent phone message stood out as very unusual.

He was looking for two photos (very typical). He wanted to know if we could find them in our archives (also very typical).

One photo was a pair of pigs nose-to-nose (a bit unusual); the other was a photo of a Black Angus (not unusual).

Oh, and he wanted to use them on his tombstone.


After a nice 30-minute chat with him, I learned his back story.

Robert Spellerberg grew up a farmer in the eastern Iowa town of Fairfax. He raised 900 hogs farrow-to-finish and cattle. He did it the ”hard way,” as he says. Now 85 and living on the farm he grew up on, he is proud of what he has accomplished and simply wants others to know what he did for a living. When the time comes.

Despite some health issues, he’s not planning on moving on anytime soon. But he wants his tombstone done and the images etched on that tombstone that tell his story.

It turns out that the images he wanted aren’t available, but he found a picture of a John Deere 4020 that he will have etched on his tombstone. He’s proud of that.

This out-of-the-blue request seemed perfectly normal – almost noble. He’s a simple man who realizes his own mortality after making a mark in agriculture.

He simply wants his tombstone to show that. It’s almost ready.

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