GOSHEN — Elkhart County agriculture and the fair lost a friend when Herb Maust died Monday afternoon.
He’d been in hospice care after coming home from the hospital before Christmas, dealing with cancer. He was 84.
Family was important to Maust. “Next to God, my family is most important,” Maust once said.
He and his wife, Rosemary, created a family legacy of perseverance, integrity and a willingness to give, said one of his daughters, Ronda Chupp, in 2010.
In all, he had four children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
In fact, family was his theme for the 1980 fair, the year he served as president of the fair board. At the time he wrote, “Families make the fair, families attend the fair and the strength of the family determines the strength of the community. As the family goes, so goes the nation.”
Maust was a member of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Board for 46 years, overseeing the rodeo and all the non-grandstand entertainment at the fair — animal acts, park stage entertainers and roving entertainers.
His loss extends beyond his family, friends and fair board colleagues.
He worked with the rodeo for more than 30 years, and was honored a couple of years ago by the Wagon Wheel IPRA Rodeo Company for his work.
The Arkansas-based rodeo company offered their condolences to Maust’s family on Facebook, saying, “Herb was a grand blessing to us,” in a post Tuesday afternoon.
Even as his health declined, he had significant input on the 2013 fair. His granddaughter, Monica Gould, assisted him for years, and she stepped in last summer when Maust was hospitalized at fair time.
In planning for next summer’s fair, “I ran things past Herb,” and he gave each act either the thumbs-up or shook his head, she told the fair board last week.
In addition to serving the fair board longer than anyone other than Dr. Robert Abel, Maust became the 2010 recipient of the “Uncle Elmer” award from the Elkhart County Agricultural Society and the 2011 marshal of the fair parade.
Maust grew up on a farm west of Goshen. He once trained a bull so he could ride it like a pony.
In a 2010 interview, he said, “Basically I was going to be a farmer, but my first year out of high school I got sunstroke. The doctor said no more farming.”
Instead he went to work for Elkhart Brass for a couple of years, before Hartman Brothers Feed Mill in Wakarusa asked him to start a farm store. He’d worked in a hardware store in high school, and “my 10-by-10 office at Elkhart Brass seemed too small, so I started a farm store,” Maust said.
That grew to be a huge operation, providing service to dairy farmers all day, every day.
Maust got out of the farm store in the early 1990s, but kept Wakarusa Fence Co., an offshoot he developed. After a half decade, he sold it to his employees.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday at Brenneman Memorial Missionary Church on S.R. 15 just north of town.
Burial will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Yellow Creek Mennonite Church Cemetery on C.R. 11. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. at Brenneman, with lunch and a time of sharing following afterward.