Victoria Livestock Show remembers longtime volunteers

March 1, 2012 at 4:04 p.m.
Updated March 1, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.

Jason Repka speaks about his brother, Clinton, who was posthumously honored at the grand opening ceremony of the 2012 Victoria Livestock Show on Thursday at the Victoria Community Center. Repka's family was at the show to accept the memorial for Clinton who showed hogs and was active with livestock shows since he was a child. Several members of the community received plaques for their dedication to the show.

Jason Repka speaks about his brother, Clinton, who was posthumously honored at the grand opening ceremony of the 2012 Victoria Livestock Show on Thursday at the Victoria Community Center. Repka's family was at the show to accept the memorial for Clinton who showed hogs and was active with livestock shows since he was a child. Several members of the community received plaques for their dedication to the show.   Angeli Wright for The Victoria Advocate

The Victoria Livestock Show lost several longtime supporters in recent years. And, while they might be gone, they are never forgotten.

The 2012 show honors Larry Herron, Rodney Mutschler and Lena Smajstrla, is dedicated to Cinthia "Cindy" Cantu and Clinton Repka and is in memory of Starr Vansickle.

Larry James Herron Sr.

Larry James Herron Sr. was born in 1952 and died Nov. 23, 2011.

He graduated from Bloomington High School and never ventured far from his hometown. A Union Carbide retiree, Herron worked at Bloomington High School until his death.

It wasn't simple geography that kept him committed to his community, but a dedication and service that were born out of loyalty and love.

A generous spirit and a friend to all who knew him, Herron's boisterous family of children, grandchildren and even an expected great-grandchild kept him young and in good humor. Herron and his wife of 23 years, Annie, were committed to their community and to raising their family.

Herron was actively involved in the Bloomington 4-H and FFA clubs and served the Victoria Livestock Show.

He was a genuine friend who lived an authentic life, completely grounded in the idea of "making the best better."

Rodney Allen Mutschler

Rodney Allen Mutschler was born in Victoria in 1937 and died Feb. 8, 2011.

He graduated from St. Joseph High School and later obtained a degree in business administration from Lamar University. After graduation, Mutschler married his long-time sweetheart, Lynn Elder, and they were married for almost 50 years at the time of his death.

Mutschler's first job after college was in sales with General Telco. In 1969, he joined his father-in-law, Marvin Elder, at Elder Distributing.

He quickly learned the business and led the company successfully and consistently, regarding his employees as extended family.

Mutschler maintained a wonderful sense of humor and loved to make others laugh. He marched to the beat of his own drum and did so without hesitation.

He was never afraid to speak out against the status quo and conventional wisdom.

Mutschler had great passion for the community and civic organizations throughout the Crossroads and was interested in furthering growth and development in his hometown.

He was full of conviction and felt strongly about his ideas, regardless of what others thought.

Mutschler was a long-time sponsor and supporter of the Victoria Livestock Show because he saw it as a means of sharing time with friends and supporting the community he loved.

Lena E. Stark Smajstrla

Lena Smajstrla was born Feb. 10, 1925 to the late Eugene and Helena Stark. She died Dec. 9, 2011.

She married George Smajstrla in 1945 and worked closely with her husband with their family farming operation for 66 years.

The mother of five dedicated her life to her family and the children involved in the Victoria County 4-H program.

She was a club manager for Guadalupe 4-H, as well as the Range and Pasture Plant Identification Project leader for Victoria County, where she taught children to identify plants and trees and to learn the benefits they offered to the state's ranching and wildlife.

Smajstrla took children to competitions throughout the state, from county level up to the State 4-H Round Up. Her teams won awards everywhere they went, thanks to her teaching and leadership.

She worked hard with Barron Rector, the state range management professor at Texas A&M University, and the extension office, to get the Range and Pasture Plant Identification contest started at the Victoria Livestock Show.

In 1988, Smajstrla received the Texas State Outstanding Person award from the Society for Range Management.

Through all of her years of volunteerism and service, she influenced many generations who went on to careers in motivation, leadership, teaching and public service. They now serve their communities and state through various volunteer organizations such as 4-H, the Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Federation of Teachers, Texas Jaycees and more.

Smajstrla's impact on the Victoria County youth is immeasurable and irreplaceable.

Cinthia "Cindy" Cantu

Cinthia "Cindy" Cantu was born in Victoria in 1958 and died March 8, 2011. She lived in Bloomington.

She was active in St. Patrick's Catholic Church and was a devoted mother, grandmother and friend.

Cantu worked for 20 years as an assistant leader in Formosa Plastics' central maintenance department, but her true service was to her family and community.

She partnered with Habitat for Humanity, volunteered with the Bloomington FFA and served as superintendent of the Victoria Livestock Show's carcass show.

Cantu was tireless in her dedication to the stock show and commitment to the valuable life lessons children can learn through their own involvement.

Hilary Cooper's philosophy that "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away" epitomized Cantu and the way she lived her life, served her community and loved her friends and family.

Clinton Jacob Repka

Clinton Jacob Repka was born in Victoria in 1978 and died Oct. 4, 2011.

He graduated from Industrial High School and earned an associate's degree in biomedical imaging technology from Texas State Technical College. An early foundation in 4-H and FFA forged his adult life, and he remained actively involved in both groups through adulthood.

Repka learned a valuable life lesson from the Victoria Livestock Show and Oreo, the first pig he raised.

Once Repka's first livestock show ended, the then third-grader was heartbroken that he could not bring Oreo home. He shared his sadness with classmates, and, rather than tease him as kids will do, one girl drew a picture of a winged pig with a written promise that Oreo would be waiting for him in heaven.

That lesson, that loyalty, even to an animal, is not to be taken lightly. And yes, the family believes Oreo was indeed waiting for him.

He ascribed to the 4-H pledge throughout his life, committing his head, heart, hands and health to his family, friends and the community he lived in.

Repka served as sentinel and student adviser for Industrial FFA, also as a volunteer for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, with the Go Texan Awards Committee.

Starr Ann Vansickle

Starr Ann Vansickle was born in Victoria in 1958 and died on Nov. 23, 2009, after an 11-month battle with cancer.

Vansickle joined the Victoria Jaycees about 1987, staying actively involved in the organization's many community service projects and earning numerous awards.

She was active in the Victoria Livestock Show and ran several projects, including exhibit booths, the parade and appreciation barbecue. She volunteered to work with numerous others.

The Jaycees and the Victoria Livestock Show were special to Vansickle, not only because of the friends she made and people she helped, but also because it was where she met husband, Herschel. After their marriage, her focus turned to starting a family and raising their two children, all the while supporting her husband's continued involvement in the stock show.

While Vansickle's family was the center of her attention, she touched a wide circle of people. Her desire to stay actively involved led her to give her time to the Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Our Lady of Victory School, St. Joseph High School and each sports team her children joined.

Following her funeral services, friend and Victoria Advocate columnist Myra Starkey described Vansickle as "One of the most courageous women I know" and said "Her journey was one of loving all those she came in contact with."

Vansickle was a wonderful person with a beautiful smile who always thought of others.



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