OKEECHOBEE- The Okeechobee dairy industry has lost one of its original trailblazers.
Louis “Red” Larson passed away on July 17 according to his son John Larson.
"Last night our Lord took home dad," said John. "All siblings were there. Dad was a legend in his own time . He loved life and milked it for all it was worth. He had so many friends and made us all feel so good. The dairy industry lost one of it’s finest.."
Florida Dairy Farmers also released a statement honoring Red's contribution to the industry.
"It is with much sadness that we learned of the passing of Red Larson," read the statement. "As a true leader, gentleman and pioneer in the dairy industry his loss will be felt by many. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and all who knew and loved him. He will be deeply missed."
After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War two, Larson and wife Reda started their first dairy in 1947 west of Fort Lauderdale. A few years later they moved the farm to Palm Beach County and then to Okeechobee County in the 1960s.
In the span of his life Red went from a teenage farmhand milking cows for $2 a day by hand to leading one of the largest dairy families in the state of Florida.
Larson served on the USDA Dairy Advisory Committee during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and was instrumental in developing milk-marketing methods that benefit both the dairy industry and the consumer.
In 2016 Red was presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award by the University of Florida.
The award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a UF supporter. It recognizes exceptional achievements of the individual in his or her chosen profession, demonstrated leadership, and other exemplary accomplishments that merit special recognition by the university.
“Through (Larson’s) hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, business ability and willingness to embrace modern science and cutting edge management practices, he built Larson Farms from the ground up by leading people and building a team of employees that believed in Larson and his vision for modern dairy operation,” said the Executive Vice President of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Jim Handley in his letter of support for Mr. Larson’s nomination for the award.