Eugene George Sukup, age 89, went to be with his Heavenly Father on July 12, 2018. His beloved wife of 66 years, Mary, was by his side.
Eugene was born to the late Dorothy Amelia (Buerkley) and Louis Sukup near Venus, Nebraska, on May 11, 1929. He was baptized on July 7, 1929, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Walnut, Nebraska. In 1938, in the midst of the Great Depression Dust Bowl, the Sukup family, which included sister Adella, moved to Iowa. They eventually settled on a farm near Hansell, Iowa, and Eugene was confirmed on August 22, 1943, at St. John Lutheran Church east of Sheffield, Iowa. He was active in both FFA and 4H, and graduated from Hansell High School in 1946. After graduation, Eugene farmed with his father.
Eugene met Mary Elizabeth Bielefeld at Luther League, after St. John merged with Zion Lutheran Church in Sheffield. Both Eugene and Mary served as Luther League President. They were married on Sunday, February 24, 1952, at Zion St. John Lutheran Church. They purchased a farm in West Fork Township near Dougherty. Eugene and Mary were blessed with two sons, Charles and Steven.
In addition to serving as a sergeant in the National Guard for eight years, Eugene was named Franklin County Outstanding Farmer in 1962. He and Mary also purchased their first grain bin that year.
In 1963, Eugene and Mary founded Sukup Manufacturing Co. in a welding shop in Sheffield. Eugene observed that pockets of grain in the bin overheated and spoiled, and he knew he could create a solution to this problem. After his initial attempt with a manual stirring auger failed, he came up with the idea of adding a horizontal auger through the handle of the drill to automate the process. He patented the idea, and the Stirway stirring machine and Sukup Manufacturing Co. were born.
Today, Sukup Manufacturing Co. holds more than 80 patents and sells its products in more than 85 countries. The company has more than 700 employees and more than 1,000,000 square feet under roof worldwide. Sukup Manufacturing Co. remains the largest family-owned, full-line grain system manufacturer. Eugene served as President of the company for 32 years. His son, Charles, became president in 1995 and his son, Steve, became CFO. Eugene remained chairman of the Board of Directors until his death.
Many will remember Eugene as a servant leader. He was a member of the Franklin County 4-H committee, Sheffield-Chapin school board, and Waldorf College Board of Regents. He was a founding board member of the Sheffield Care Center. Eugene also served three terms on the church council and as congregational president.
Additionally, Eugene will be remembered for his exceptional achievements in business, agriculture, and innovation. In 2006, Eugene was inducted into the Iowa Inventors Hall of Fame. The following year he received the Outstanding Innovation Award by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. In 2011, he received the Iowa State University Honorary Alumni Award and was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame. In 2014, Eugene was voted to become a member of Tau Beta Pi as an Eminent Engineer, and he was named a 2015 Legend in Manufacturing by Elevate Advanced Manufacturing, a program of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry. Iowa State University conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree to Eugene in the fall of 2015.
Eugene is survived by his wife, Mary; his son Charles and his wife Mary (Heimbuch) Sukup of Dougherty, and his son Steven and his wife Vicki (Larson) Sukup of Clear Lake; and six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren: Nick Sukup, Coral Springs, Florida; Crystal and Matt Koch (Lily, Zander, and Grace), and Emily and Andy Schmitt (Wynn and Celia), all of Clear Lake, Iowa; Elizabeth Sukup, Ames, Iowa; Andrew Sukup, Dougherty, Iowa; and Jonathan Sukup, Dallas, Texas.
A visitation will be held on Monday, July 16, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hampton, Iowa. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, July 17, at 10:30 a.m., also at Trinity Lutheran Church. It is located at 16 12th Avenue NE in Hampton, Iowa. The burial will take place at the Sheffield cemetery following the service, and lunch will be served at Trinity Lutheran Church after the service.
Those wishing to honor Eugene’s memory with a contribution may consider supporting one of these organizations which were close to his heart:
- Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO
- Sing for Joy, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN
- Lutheran Heritage Foundation, Macomb, MI
- Mission Central, Mapleton, IA