For their dedication to and support of Rend Lake College, the Rubenacker family of Hamilton County was honored with the Doug Leeck Service Award during the 29th annual RLC Agricultural Banquet on Friday, April 8, at Rend Lake Resort.
The family’s legacy began with patriarch Richard Rubenacker, who passed away in February this year. The 1952 Wayne City High School graduate married Margarette (Jody) Biggerstaff. Their three sons, Randy, Rodney and Terry, each graduated from RLC’s Agriculture Production program and joined the family business. Jody and her children were present to accept the Doug Leeck Service Award at the banquet.
“My father had a lot of adversity in his life,” said Randy Rubenacker. Richard worked in a factory in Chicago before learning that a farm was up for sale close to home. In his early years of farming, Richard lost every piece of equipment he owned in a fire, yet was able to bounce back and become more successful, Randy said.
In the mid-1980s, Richard bought Hamilton County Equipment in McLeansboro, which was a turning point not only in Richard’s business life but in the lives of his family as well.
“He left us boys to run the family farm and make the decisions,” said Randy. And they apparently have made the right decisions. What originally was 320 acres has grown over the last 40 years to include more than 8,000 acres, of which the Rubenacker family owns 90 percent. The Rubenackers purchased another dealership in Carmi in 1990, and the family also owns Prairie Tile Systems and owns and operates Rubenacker Farms Inc., a trucking business that hauls grain from its farms and custom hauls for Pioneer Seed Co. in McLeansboro.
Among the family’s contributions to Rend Lake College:
• Richard Rubenacker was a member of the Rend Lake College Foundation Board of Directors as well as the RLC Ag Advisory Board. He recently relinquished the latter seat to his son Randy.
• Hamilton County Equipment has contributed money to sponsor student scholarships at RLC since 1987, and Prairie Tile Systems donated gifts-in-kind worth $10,000 in drainage tiles and installation for the RLC Prairie Tile Research Project.
• Richard and Jody received the RLC Foundation Gold Seal Major Gift Award at the 2004 RLCF Annual Dinner for the $25,000 lead gift to the Challenge Grant II Campaign for the establishment of an endowed “Rubenacker Family Scholarship.”
Associate Agriculture Professor Terry Wilkerson said in addition to providing scholarships, the Rubenackers have allowed RLC’s Agriculture students to look at some of the newest farming equipment available.
“For as busy as they are, they have never been too busy to help us out,” said Wilkerson. “We really appreciate you.”
Doug Leeck was an agriculture instructor at RLC and passed away in 1997. Wilkerson said Leeck always enjoyed the night of the Agriculture Banquet. Leeck’s wife Cindy and son Henry (now a History instructor at RLC) were on hand to present the award to the Rubenackers.
“If you were a student of Doug, you knew he was in your corner,” Wilkerson said.
Randy Rubenacker, who had Doug Leeck as an instructor, said Doug “was full of jokes, but when it came to educating kids, that came first.”