Iowa pork industry saddened by loss of top pork promoter

Iowa pork industry saddened by loss of top pork promoter

Posted June 11, 2012
The Iowa Pork Producers Association is mourning the loss of one of its long-time Iowa Pork Tent Committee members.


Gary “Otis” Helmrichs of rural Manchester passed away Saturday, June 9, after a long illness. He was 60 years old.


IPPA launched the Iowa Pork Tent restaurant at the Iowa State Fair in 1981 as a way to help promote pork. Hog farmers from around the state volunteer to serve on the committee and help grill and serve pork during the fair.
Helmrichs joined the committee in 1983 and remained active until his passing. He served as committee chairman in 1994 and 1995.
Dave Petersen of Goose Lake served alongside Helmrichs on the committee for the past 22 years.
“He was a real trooper when it came to promoting pork. He was always there to help,” Petersen said. “I admired him for his dedication.”
Dana Wanken of Clarion has served on the Pork Tent Committee since 1996 and said Helmrichs was almost like a brother to him and they had a lot of good times together.


“’Otis’ always liked to be out front at the Pork Tent grilling,” Wanken said. “He always did the Iowa Chops, but would pitch in and help grill pork burgers and loins if they needed help. He brought a lot of ideas and experience to the committee and he’ll be missed.”


Helmrichs was honored for his work in the pork industry earlier this year. He received IPPA’s state Hog Wild Award during the Iowa Pork Congress in January. The award is presented annually to an individual who has committed time and effort to introducing consumers to new pork products, educating restaurants and retailers about pork and assisting with county and state pork promotions.


Helmrichs is survived by his wife, Shirley; two children, Harmony and Jamie; and three grandchildren. The entire family has actively been involved in pork production and promotion over the years and Jamie also serves on the Pork Tent Committee.


Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 13, at the Golden Congregational Church near Ryan. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 12 at the Leonard-Muller Funeral Home in Manchester and for 90 minutes prior to the service at the church.