Eric Walter Lang

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Eric Walter Lang died September 2, 2022, in Brooklyn, Iowa.  He was 60 years old.  He is survived by Nicole Schlinger his wife of 24 years, his brothers and sister, John, Craig and Christine (Turpin).  He was the youngest of Maynard and Dorothy Lang's four children.  He was named Eric for his red hair and Walter for his maternal great grandfather Walter Uhl. 

               Eric grew up on the dairy farm where he lived his entire life, graduated from BGM Community High School and Iowa State University with a degree in Dairy Science.  At Iowa State, he sang with the Iowa State Singers, the school's top choral group and was a member of the Iowa State Dairy Cattle Judging team. 

               Registered dairy cattle were his passion throughout his life.  After graduating from Iowa State, he returned to the home farm to work with his father and brother, Craig.  The farm and dairy operation expanded from milking tens to hundreds of head of cattle and was recognized and awarded for its farming operation and its Ayrshire and Holstein cattle. 

               Eric and Nicole met on Mike Mahaffey’s campaign for Congress in 1996. They met when Nicole called to ask for a donation, which he dropped off at the campaign office. Soon after, Nicole drafted him to sing at several major political events in the state. He sang God Save the Queen at an event honoring Lady Margaret Thatcher in 1998, and The Star-Spangled Banner at a fundraiser during George W. Bush’s first visit to Iowa in 1999.

 A self-taught auctioneer, Eric was often called upon to conduct auctions for university events.  He always enjoyed being a “ring man”, taking bids at registered dairy cattle sales and being the “pedigree man”, standing in the sales box with the auctioneer, describing the animal's pedigree and virtues and using witty commentary to encourage bidding.

               Eric displayed an interest and aptitude for business very early in life.  While in junior high, he negotiated a loan from the farm's bank to buy his own dairy cattle which turned into a profitable venture. Throughout his life he pursued off the farm investing opportunities. 

               Eric took pride in being an excellent, self-taught writer.  His articles were published in the Holstein World, Hoard's Dairyman and others.  He wrote a weekly article for the on-line magazine, Dairy Agenda Today, called “On Cows and Markets”.  He devoted about half the article to analysis of dairy food, dairy cattle and other farm markets and the other half of the article to a witty commentary on a dairy, farm, or political issue that caught his interest. His brother, John, described Eric as a noted dairy industry prognosticator, free market apologist, registered dairy cattle enthusiast and occasional social and political critic whose writing was always extremely well written and humorous, but insightful.

He and Nicole were also very generous with causes they considered worthy.  He once announced at a sale that every dollar over a certain amount on an animal he had consigned would go to the University of Iowa, in honor of a colleague whose child was undergoing treatment there. The donation proved to be substantial.  They annually gave several large scholarships in honor or the memory of Iowa registered dairy cattle breeders to students enrolled in dairy science at Iowa State.  He was a major donor to World Dairy Expo and other regional dairy shows.

          While Eric and Nicole lived a very low-key personal life, he always added his own flair and style to his public life, including his sales persona, his writing, the advertising for his dairy cattle, the promotional logos he had embroidered on his shirts, and the hats he always wore.  He asked Nicole to marry him on WHO radio at the Iowa State Fair.

          In the last several years he bought top dairy animals in partnership with talented, younger registered dairy cattle men and women.  One year he co-owned the grand champion cow in three dairy breeds at the Iowa State Fair.  He paid much of the cost of housing, raising, and showing the animals while giving the honor of showing the animals to the men and women who co-owned them.  He admitted he lost money on the cattle, but he said that when people get to his age with disposable funds they travel, buy boats, cars and vacation homes. He said, “I like to buy cows.”

        If anyone wishes to make a donation in honor of Eric, memorial contributions can be made to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.

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Private family services will take place at a later date.

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