My caller ID said the incoming line was phoning from Tennessee. Besides my friend Bill Maness, there’s only a few dairy folks that ever call me from the Volunteer State. When I picked up the phone, the woman identified herself as an associate of a prominent dairy market analyst. She said her boss told her to phone me with some unexpected, bad news. “Ben Yale passed away,” the voice said. “Mary Ledman thought you would want to know.”

Cooley walt polo
Editor and Podcast Host / Progressive Dairy

He had passed away from complications that ensued after heart surgery sometime the day before.

Reaching for a pen, I tried to remember the basic journalistic questions.

First, I asked the woman to identify herself again. She politely did so, but then I blanked. I thanked her for notifying me and hung up. In my shock, all I got was the source of the news.

For about 10 minutes, I wasn’t sure what to do next. Then the next call I got was from a more familiar phone number – Yale Law Office. The man identified himself as Ben’s assistant and informed me of the news I’d just barely heard earlier that morning. He said he was working down “the list” of family, associates and friends.


I confirmed with him the date of Ben Yale’s passing – 11:58 p.m., June 13. He was 60.

This issue carries what is, unexpectedly, Ben Yale’s last column. Its theme is most appropriately patriotic in celebration of our country’s independence ( click here to read ) .

Since 2008, when he began writing for the magazine, he and I would often exchange emails, and occasionally phone calls, about upcoming column topics. I was most looking forward to reading his commentary on the Supreme Court’s decisions on Obamacare and Arizona’s SB1070 immigration enforcement law.

Over time Ben Yale received the second-most number of comments about his columns of any of our contributors – second only to Yevet Tenney. We’ve compiled a list of his most-read articles on our website. Click here to see that list and to view comments from those who knew and respected Yale.

Our most sincere condolences go to Ben’s widow, Bonnie. Most unfortunately, she lost her husband and father on the same day.

I thought it most appropriate to share a recent comment I received from one of Ben’s close friends, Roger Sanders, a dairyman from Ben’s hometown of Waynesfield, Ohio.

“The subscribers that read Ben Yale’s articles, I am sure, realize how intelligent he was. Please let me tell you about the Ben Yale I knew for more than 40 years.

“Ben was a faithful Christian who learned Greek so that he could study his Bible more accurately. He was a devout family man and diligent supporter of his hometown, putting action behind his words, improving the community.

“Though not raised a farm boy, he worked tirelessly trying to improve the dairy industry, meeting and working with people from all over the world.

“The words I would use to describe Ben would be: honest, loyal, patriotic, unselfish, caring and down-to-earth.

“I am sure he is in heaven campaigning for the milk industry. He was my friend, and I will miss him.”

We will all miss him. God bless your legacy and those you’ve left behind, Ben Yale. PD


Walt Cooley
Progressive Dairyman