One of the best things about being an agricultural journalist is the farm families we get to know. When tragedy strikes, it’s also one of the most bittersweet.
Tommy Dell, a central figure in Farm Journal’s Legacy Project, died Wednesday, September 29, on his Westminster, Maryland, farm. The Dell family was in full harvest mode when Tommy lifted a dump trailer into some power lines and was electrocuted. He was 36.
Those of us at Farm Journal are still trying to get our heads wrapped around this loss. Tommy was a full throttle personality that defined the very reason the Legacy Project exists. You can find his name linked to everything from his activities as a local wrestling coach to written comments submitted regarding the recent Department of Justice seed industry hearings. Agriculture—and our society—need more people like him.
His wife, Shannon, had recently submitted her first blog to AgWeb
. The post was so eloquent, we didn’t change a word. It is also a love story that makes our hearts rejoice and now, ache. Our photo files are filled with images of Tommy and Shannon and their small children, Josie and Grady.
The Dell family entered our Legacy project as a four generation family struggling to survive the traumas of transition and succession.
Beyond getting their own generational house in order, the family hoped their story would touch the lives of other farm families. Little did they realize how much and in what ways that thought might come true.
Upon our first meeting, Tommy shared that he and Shannon had lost an infant daughter. "It changed my life," he said. "After that, I vowed to live every day to the fullest and never take my family for granted. Every moment is precious."
Yes, Tommy, it is.
- November 2010