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1945 TONY 2024

TONY HEINZE

July 21, 1945 — April 25, 2024

SIBLEY

  It all started on July 21, 1945, a little boy was born to Edward and Elsie (Jensen) Heinze.

   The first six years we lived in a real small one bedroom house with no running water, electricity or indoor toilets. My folks milked cows and raised a few hogs. We had a half section of land and raised some wheat, barley, oats and some corn.

  When I was six years old we moved to my grandparents farm. A little one room country school was only 1 mile away and I had to walk to and from school every day. There were three seventh graders, one third grader and I was the only first grader. First and second grade I was the smartest kid in my class. I was the only one!

  Third grade they closed down the school as there would only be 2 of us in school. We lived on the west side of the Sheyenne River so we were the first kids to go to the Luverne school only 4 miles away. Third grade through high school was hard. The only sport we really had was basketball that I played from 7th grade through high school. We only had 8 or 9 kids on the team and we had a pretty good team. In 1963, I graduated from high school in the top 10 in my class. I was number 10 as there was only 10 in my class.

  Before graduating from high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard. A few weeks after high school graduation I was headed for Fort Leonardwood, Missouri. Boy did I get weaned. I was only 17 years old. After I got out of 6 months active duty, jobs were really hard to find. Our Army pay was only $2.11 per drill. I worked in an ice packing house one winter and lived in a railroad box car. Also worked for a local farmer for a short while. In 1965, I landed a job running a caterpillar and heavy equipment. I knew what hard work was all about dozing out trees, burying old buildings, rock piles and anything else a dozer could do. In the fall of 1965, I started working for the McDonald Livestock Commission Co. in West Fargo. We sorted, chased and yarded cattle from first thing in morning to last thing at night. Every chance I could I would listen to the auctioneers Freddie Chandler and Bob Steffes. I thought WOW, how do they do that? I saw an ad in the paper Reisch American School of Auctioneering. I inquired into it and for $25.00 got a record and some books. School was $175.00 for a 2-week course and the $25.00 went toward the $175.00. I attended the March 1967 class. Rooms and meals were included, and school was held at the Hanford Hotel in Mason City, Iowa. School started at 7a.m and several times it went into the wee hours in the morning. Wow what a learning experience. Right out of school I was fortunate to work the ring at the West Fargo Stockyards with Freddie Chandler and Bob Steffes. I worked quite a while there for nothing. Work was long and hard and barely had enough money for food and gas. Finally the big break thru came in, I got $5.00 a day. I had 70 miles to get to work and 70 miles back home. Gas was cheap but so were the wages. Was fortunate to have a household sale for my Uncle who was moving and got to help another auctioneer on a neighbor’s sale. A classmate of mine’s dad retired from farming and got to do his farm auction. Sales were hard to get and not many of them. In 1969 I purchased a local livestock trucking business. I would load cattle or hogs real early in the morning, haul into West Fargo stockyard, work the ring and sometimes late in the sale got to sell a few cattle. After the sale was over many times would haul a load of cattle back to a customer. Talk about hard work and long hours, but at least I was turning some dollars. March of 1969 I was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant from the Army National Guard.

  In 1970 I purchased 60 acres of wasteland. It never was farmed or pastured. It cost $50.00 an acre and everybody thought I was crazy for paying that much for land. I built a 120 ft. by 40 pole barn and a little corral to raise some cattle and hogs. Also in 1970, I purchased a small house in Sibley Resort, right close to home for $5,000.00. Luckily got it bought on a contract for deed $50.00 a month and 3% interest. Those payments were even hard to make. Working at the Stockyards started getting better as I went from $5.00 per day to $10.00 and finally went to $20.00 a day and even got to sell a few more cattle. Things were really getting good as I was getting a few more sales, hauling more livestock and broke up a few acres of land. One month I worked all 22 sales in the month of May and got a check for $880.00. Things were really getting good. In 1968 I joined the North Dakota Auctioneers Association and the National Auctioneers Association. I am still very proud to be a member of each. I have attended every NDAA convention since 1971 and regret missing 1969 and 1970. Have attended many NAA conventions and have met many wonderful people and made many, many friends. Have competed in many contests, winning the NDAA contest in 1973.

  In 1975 North Dakota started a Livestock Auctioneers Contest. I won that contest three times and took home many 2nd and 3rd place trophies. I entered many World Livestock Contests. Never winning or maybe even coming close. I met many of the World Champions, met and made a whole lot of really nice people and friends.

  1989 came along and many of the Auctioneers didn’t compete anymore. I came up with an idea to have a Tri-tate Auctioneers Contest, North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. 1989 we had 23 auctioneers from three states and one from Iowa. Paul Behr, our first winner was host to 1990 Auctioneers Contest in South St. Paul. There were 45 auctioneers from all over the country. It was then they changed the name to the Greater Midwest Livestock Auctioneers Contest.

  Throughout all these great years in the auction business, I had the chance to buy 320 acres of land about 7 miles from home. Another 275 acres about 1/2 mile from home. Another 480 acres 8 miles north of home, another 320 next to what I just got. My Uncle retired so I purchased his 1/2 share of 160 acres and soon after purchased my dad’s 1/2 share. Right next to that 320 acres came up for sale and I purchased that. Had a total of about 2200 acres of farm and pastureland plus renting other land. I remember one year of having 700 steers on pasture, another year had 350 cows and calves on pasture. Had only one hired man and myself and all the farm work and many auctions to conduct. Had it not been for the auctioneer business I would not be where I am today. Some of those years were pretty slim going in the grain and cattle business. One year in the late 1980’s wheat was about $5.00 a bushel and we got 2-1/2 bushels to the acre. Pretty hard to make a living on that.

  1996 turned out to be my lucky year. One pasture I have borders Lake Ashtabula and my cows kept getting out on to some lake cabin’s property. A gal who was staying at her parent’s cabin kept chasing my cows in. I kept chasing them back out - turned out to be Barbara. We have been together ever since. I met her in the pasture, so I say she is pasteurized. (She’s, my Barbie Doll. My 50th birthday present).

   2000 came along and I was inducted into the North Dakota Auctioneers Hall of Fame. Truly a great honor. 2006 I was Sod Buster of the year. A local club my dad and some neighbors started in 1945. A club noted for good times and lots of beer drinking. We live in a German community and this club still going today and sponsors a Bull-O-Rama every Labor Day weekend attracting over 2000 people each year. Our club is ready to help anybody in need or for benefits to help. We’ve raised many thousands of dollars for college scholarships and to lend a helpful hand. I am very proud to say I was president for 20 straight years.

  2013 in Valentine, Nebraska I had the surprise of my life. I was awarded the Tony Heinze Award, an annual award given to someone in the auctioneer or auction marketing business. Truly an honor and award that words cannot express. Paul Behr was the 2014 recipient of the Tony Heinze Award.

  When you think you have received every award there is, I get a call from World Wide College of Auctioneering and here I am June 20, 2014. What an honor. 2021 North Dakota Winter Show Honoree. Had it not been for the auctioneer business I could still be running a back breaking caterpillar, chasing cattle to the sale arena and leaning on a shovel. I did this with no financial help from parents or relatives. Every time I went to the banker, I had to beg to borrow some money. Of all the things I’ve done I have no regrets and would do the same thing all over again.

  Throughout all these years I started custom chopping corn silage with a 2 row chopper. As years went on I chopped with a 3 row chopper. Finally I thought I was king of the corn choppers. I had a self propelled 4 row chopper! Finally went to a six row head. “Wow”. Today I have 3 big John Deere self-propelled choppers with 8 row headers. Today we chop 6-8 thousand acres of hay and corn each year. Had it not been for the auctioneer business none of this would have happened.

 A special thank you to Tyson Hovland. He really helped me out.

I have been a member of the:

North Dakota Auctioneers Association since 1968. Served as president 1975 and on board of directors for many years.

National Auctioneers Association since 1968

Dazey Sod Buster Club 

Valley City Eagles

Barnes County Wildlife

Tony is preceded in death by his parents Edward and Elsie, and his granddaughter Alexis. 

Tony is survived by his life partner Barbara, his children Lisa, Neil, and Robert (Bobbie Jo), his brothers Mike (Sandy), Andy, and Kenny (Mary), many grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and great friends. 

We love you and will miss you Tony! Rest in peace!


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