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!

Featured Stories

CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denver
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybeans
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
Eric SfiligojDoes Biotech Crop Labeling Really Matter?
July 7, 2014
Initiatives to label products made with biotech crops are intensifying. But should the industry continue to fight them? Read More

Trending Articles

Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More
EquipmentGPS: 25 Years And Still Growing
June 2, 2014
The evolution of global positioning systems applications in agriculture remains ongoing as the technology hits a notable milestone. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
July 17, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Sells Carbon Credits To Chevrolet, Donate…
July 17, 2014
CF Industries has completed the sale of a large block of carbon reduction credits to Chevrolet, and will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation. Read More
CropLife 100Grainland Cooperative, Minier Cooperative Grain To Merg…
July 17, 2014
The shareholders of Grainland Cooperative and Minier Cooperative Grain Co. approved a merger of company operations effective August 1, 2014. Read More
ManagementStudy: Drought Costing California Billions
July 17, 2014
A new study has found the drought has cost the state $2.2 billion, primarily in lost farm revenue and wages. Read More