Mall Shooting Takes One Of Industry’s Own

A veteran ag-chem salesman was killled in last week’s mall shooting in Omaha, NE.

Gary Scharf, 48, was the second of eight victims killed in a random shooting Wednesday, Dec. 5, at a Von Maur store in Westroads Mall, Omaha, NE. He had stopped at the mall to buy two shirts for a business trip to Las Vegas.

His funeral was held Monday at the United Methodist Church in Curtis, NE, not far from the ranch where he grew up. Around 350 mourners overflowed the church, so some listened to an audio of the service in a nearby movie theatre.

Edmond Cho, chief representative at the U.S. office of LG Life Sciences and Scharf’s boss, attended the funeral service. “According to another survivor, Gary helped a lady get off the escalator and tried to find out who was shooting while climbing the escalator. At that time, he was shot,” relates Cho. “The lady thanked Gary’s brother, Bob, because Gary saved her life.”

Jim Shelton of Landmark Services Cooperative, Juda, WI, gave one of the eulogies at the service, telling the crowd about their 25-year friendship that began as a business relationship, including the snowmobiling, motorcycling, and boating trips which included Shelton’s sons. “Gary was always enthusiastic and ready to tackle new tasks, or adventures,” he said. “Gary’s work ethic was above and beyond. Even when we were on vacation together, he was always working for the company. His commitment to the ag industry and people far exceeds many others I have worked with.”

On the day he was killed, Scharf was to fly to Las Vegas to see Shelton receive the 2007 Ag Retailer of the Year award for his company at the Agricultural Retailers Association annual meeting.

“We will all miss Gary, and his smiling face,” says Shelton. “I lost one of my best friends who was as much a brother as he was a friend.

Scharf began his 26-year ag-chem sales career at Ciba-Geigy and was with the company through its evolution into Ciba, Novartis, and finally Syngenta. In 2004, he became an area sales manager for Makhteshim Agan of North America (MANA) and was later promoted to national sales manager. At the time of his death, he was the national sales manager for LG Life Sciences, Ltd., which provided him with the opportunity to move back to Lincoln, NE.

Some of the key items listed on his professional resume include growing MANA’s sales from $60 million to record high $103 million in two years, introducing Callisto herbicide for Syngenta and eight new Syngenta products that soon became number one in their markets, and being a company leader many times in sales. He won numerous professional honors and awards, and was very active in FFA and other community activities. He also provided industry insights at various times for CropLife® magazine, including the November 2004 cover story about MANA.

Cho will initially handle Scharf’s business accounts. “He was the greatest salesperson I ever met,” says Cho. “He was very active and energetic all the time. He traveled all around the country and met so many people. He was very positive and gentle.”

Cho shares these stories: “He also was very open-minded, accepting all kinds of different cultures. When he was at MANA, he learned about the Hebrew language to instill good will in the company and after he joined LG Life Sciences, he learned the Korean language at a small church in Lincoln with Korean-American kids (ranging in age from 6 to 10). The teacher told the kids to call him Mr. Scharf, but they believed Big Gary was their good friend and called him Gary. Think about how odd it must have seemed to have him studying among very small kids! But he didn’t care about that. He had the enthusiasm to study what he was curious about and work very hard.”

Others in the industry also talked about how highly regarded he was — both professionally and personally.

“Gary was passionate about everything he did — work, play, and family,” says John Rabby, MANA’s president and CEO. “He loved this industry and believed in its future. He was smart, witty, and caring about his customers and peers alike. He loved life and lived it to the fullest. This industry will miss Gary. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”

“I spoke to Gary the day before he died and he was pleased that he spent some time with his college-age son, Steven, and they both enjoyed their time together and Steven even posed for a formal shot with Gary,” says Maria Mirsky of Mirsky Assoc., Inc. (see photo above). “The parents of college-age children everywhere will appreciate that. Gary will live on in his son Steven — who has his charm, his gift of gab, his ‘just challenge me, I’ll debate you’ smirk, and his always helpful, ever-positive attitude.”

“I met Gary while at an SCPA (Southern Crop Production Association) annual meeting a couple of years ag,” recalls Bonnie McCarvel, executive director of the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA). “We sat with him for dinner and a couple of others from MANA. Gary was very easy to talk with and he made me feel welcome. I saw him a few times after that and he always said hello and had a smile on his face. The crop protection industry has lost a good person.”

Rex Martin, currently state government relations manager for Syngenta, was hired 18 years ago by Scharf, then-Ciba-Geigy’s Arkansas district manager. “Gary was one of those guys that was very hard working, always was positive,and had a smile on his face,” Martin relates. “As he moved around the company and moved to other companies, we kept up, we were friends, and it was just really shocking that this happened, just really shocking. He was a good guy to work with, and I know that he was grateful to have the opportunity to move back to Nebraska and get closer to home. The times I talked to him, he was very happy about living in Lincoln. He cared a lot about his son and his stepkids; that was one of the big reasons he wanted to be close there in Nebraska.”

“Gary Scharf was a true professional and had a work ethic that impressed customers, suppliers, and co-workers,” recalls Don Bradley, Murray Equipment’s director of marketing and sales. “He loved challenges and always found a way to move ahead in tough situations. He will always be remembered by those of us in the industry that worked with him for his high level of personal integrity.”

“I enjoyed working with Gary and found him to be a true professional whom I could always rely on,” says Ephi Gur, MANA’s vice president, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs. “He always found time to discuss any issue and always did so in good nature and with a smile. He was great to work with — our industry has lost a great guy who was not just a pro but a wonderful human being as well.”

Sharf’s death is a huge loss on the business side also for LG Life Sciences. “I don’t know how to fill the gap his death leaves. He was the most important person in our ag business,” says Cho.

He is survived by his son, Steve, his parents, a sister, two brothers, and his dog, Red. He was preceded in death by his son, Scott and both sets of grandparents. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.blasestrauser.com. Click here for an online account of the funeral service.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Mall Shooting Takes One Of Industry’s Own

  1. Gary Eugene Scharf is a true hero! He had Shinn ancestry and he shares the same ancestry as a Moffat County, Colorado gentleman, Orville Herbert Shinn!

Management Stories

Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover Crops
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and RNC Invite
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Other Changes
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More
Trending Articles
Southeast Farmers Coop - Finished Building
Retail FacilitiesNew Stueve Facilities Offer Ag Retailers Speed, Accuracy
July 9, 2016
Leading the industry in planning and constructing dry fertilizer storage and chemical warehouse solutions, Stueve Construction helped three ag retailers Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Latest News
FertilizerGypsum Added To List Of Conservation Practices
July 28, 2016
Crop farmers in a growing number of states may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Read More
Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover …
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesStudy: Fall Weed Controls Can Make Significant Impact O…
July 28, 2016
An article published in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science shows that adopting harvest-time and post-harvest weed controls Read More
InsecticidesSyngenta: Beware Of Early Stinkbug Threat To Soybeans
July 28, 2016
With the record warm temperatures this past winter and confirmations from early entomologist reports, Syngenta encourages growers to monitor stinkbug Read More
Peanut field
Crop InputsVerdesian Introduces New Inoculant For Peanuts
July 28, 2016
As planning begins for the next growing season, Verdesian Life Sciences adds Primo Power CL, a new liquid inoculant, to Read More
Soil Young Corn
Crop InputsSmithsonian: 5 Things to Know About New GMO Labeling Bi…
July 27, 2016
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring large food companies to label products containing genetically modified Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesSpecial Issue Of Weed Science Explores Human Aspects Of…
July 27, 2016
Weeds that evolve resistance to herbicides are a serious threat to global agricultural production. In this Special Issue of Weed Science, Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100CHS Businesses In Washington, Idaho Combining For Great…
July 27, 2016
As full-service ag retailers, CHS Primeland and CHS Farmers Co-op collectively serve farmers and other customers in 15 counties in Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
Crop InputsNACHURS Joins Field to Market
July 27, 2016
NACHURS announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a leading multi-stakeholder initiative working Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Ag…
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Kochia
Crop InputsNufarm Launches New Herbicide for Resistant Kochia
July 25, 2016
Nufarm introduces Scorch herbicide for U.S. farmers and ranchers combating a broad range of troublesome broadleaf weeds. A unique premix Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsBloomberg: Syngenta-Chem China Deal on Track for Regula…
July 25, 2016
Syngenta AG, which has agreed to be taken over by China National Chemical Corp. for $43 billion, said talks with Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and R…
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Imports
July 22, 2016
Monsanto Co. announced today that the European Commission has granted import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. This milestone Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Alfalfa Seed Split Off
July 22, 2016
On September 1, 2016, Syngenta will transfer sales and distribution of alfalfa seed to the NEXGROW branded business that is Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDuPont, Dow Shareholders Approve Merger
July 21, 2016
DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held today, stockholders of both Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Oth…
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More