Thomas W. Conover, age 98, of Holstein, passed away on Thursday, August 25, 2022. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, September 03, 2022 at 1:00 PM at the United Methodist Church of Holstein with the Rev. Luann Benge officiating. Burial will be at the Battle Center Cemetery of Holstein with military rites conducted by the American Legion Dessel-Schmidt Post #225 of Holstein. A visitation will be held on Friday, September 02, 2022 from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Nicklas D. Jensen Funeral Home of Holstein. The funeral service will be live streamed on the Iowa Berkshire Association Facebook page.
Tom Conover passed away on August 25, 2022. He lived his whole life on the farm where he was born, Bonnie Acres Farm, five miles south of Holstein, IA. Tom attended Logan Township Country School and Holstein Community High School where he graduated in 1942. He went into the military right out of high school as World War II had begun.
Tom fought in five major battles in World War II. He was part of the third outfit to arrive at Normandy Beach. He fought in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe and the Battle of the Bulge. Tom was a unique veteran in that he received the European Theater Ribbon with five bronze stars and a Bronze Star for his heroism in World War II.
Tom arrived back home after the war in September, 1945. On January 22, 1947 he married Phyllis Irene Grell at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, IA. They made their home at Bonnie Acres and commenced to raise their family: Craig, Linda, Bruce, Allen and Grant.
Purebred Berkshire hogs were introduced at Bonnie Acres in 1931 by Tom’s father. After Tom returned home from the war he had been in 26 states and 10 countries and had seen a lot of Berkshires. He exhibited Bonnie Acres Berkshires at nine state fairs including Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Illinois and Colorado as well as exhibiting at the National Type Conferences every year. Yearly production sales were held in early spring and fall from 1968 through 1983.
Tom’s leadership led to the success of Bonnie Acres and also the Berkshire breed. Tom was elected to the American Berkshire Association board of directors in 1953 and served for 23 years. He was President of the board for many years. He and his wife Phyllis were honored by the American Berkshire Association with the Distinguished Service Award. Phyllis passed away in 1992 after a long battle with cancer.
Tom Conover has judged swine shows all over the United States. Some include the Cow Palace and Orange County Fair in California; Pennsylvania Farm Show; S.W. Winter Type Conference in Kansas and Texas; Red River Valley Fair in North Dakota; Sioux Empire Farm Show in South Dakota; and at least 11 different state fairs. He also judged in at least 19 county fairs multiple times.
Tom was a 4-H leader for over 25 years and served as the swine superintendent at the Ida County Fair. He influenced more than 1,000 Ida County 4-Hers by helping with 4-H demonstrations, livestock judging and the 4-H swine show. He was inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame in 2015.
Tom served his community on the board of the First Methodist Church in Holstein where he was a member of the board and served as its president for several terms. He was a member of the American Legion Post 225 in Holstein.
In August 1993, Tom married Shirley Bartolozzi. Shirley brought three children to the family including Christopher, Nicole and Maggie. Shirley embraced the Conover family and their traditions.
Tom is survived by his wife Shirley and children including: son Craig (Jean) of Mapleton and daughter Christine (David) and great-grandsons Franklin and Graham of Cedar Rapids, and daughter Catherine (Eldon) of Wrenshall, MN; daughter Linda Weldon (Stephen) of Slater and son Bart (Amy) and great-grandson Brayden of Maxwell; son Bruce of Craryville, NY and son Justin; son Allen (Jeanne) of Baxter and son Adam (Julie), great-granddaughters Lillie and Lidia of Holden, MO, and sons Scott and Steve Johnston of Baxter; son Grant of Baxter and son Brice (Markie) of Baxter and great-grandchildren Maverick, Brynlee, Aiden and Liam and son Chase of Cet, MO; step-son Chris Bartolozzi (Kathy) of West Des Moines, and grandchildren Caleb and Saya; step-daughter Nicole Bartolozzi of Ames and step-daughter Maggie Renze of Ida Grove and grandchildren Kimberley, Nicholas, Jayden, Ashlynn, and Weston.
Other survivors include sister-in-law JoAnn Friedrichsen, Holstein and Jean Jensen, Kingsley and many nieces and nephews on all sides of the family, and many past employees of Bonnie Acres.