Pork industry leader Mensink loses cancer battle

The Minnesota and U.S. swine industry lost a great leader, friend and man with the passing of Craig Mensink of Preston, Minn.

Mensink succumbed to cancer on Jan. 17, surrounded by his family.

Craig Mensink, pork producer and swine industry leader from Preston, Minn., passed away Jan. 17 after battling cancer.

He briefly worked at Harvester and KFIL Radio, before finding his true calling as a farmer. Mensink and his wife, Pam, took over the family farm near Greenleafton, Minn., in 1977. With the addition of his son-in-law, Chad Persons, to the farm operations, he continued to work and harvest crops until he passed away.

Mensink was a passionate educator and promoter of pork farming: He served with Fillmore County Pork Producers, the Minnesota Pork Board and the National Pork Board. During his tenure with the NPB, he worked on several committees and traveled to countries such as Japan, China, Brazil and Russia. He received numerous accolades for his farming. In 2011, Craig and Pam were awarded the Minnesota Farm Family of the Year for Fillmore County, and in 2017, Craig received the Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Pork Board, in recognition of his selfless service to the pork industry. He was also a devoted servant to his local community; and volunteered time to his church, Christ Lutheran, 4-H, and cooked and donated pork to numerous events around Fillmore County.

Craig was born in 1956 in Preston to Wendell and Cleo (Miedema) Mensink. He graduated from Preston High School in 1974, and went on to graduate from Rochester Community Technical College in accounting.

He and Pam (Hovey) were married in 1977, celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary last year. They have three children, Mike (Rachel) Mensink, Mandy (Nate) Olsen, and Megan (Chad) Persons; three grandsons, Owen and Asher Olsen, and Jackson Persons; and one granddaughter, Lizzie Mensink.

The pride that Craig took in his farm was only overshadowed by the pride he took in his children and grandchildren. Craig instilled in his family an appreciation for agriculture, honesty, integrity and the importance of always finding time to serve others and give generously. He loved life, living it to the fullest. He enjoyed the outdoors: hunting, fishing, golfing, camping, country music, Camaro car drives, and sunrises in the combine.

He worked hard, but knew the value of spending quality time with his family and friends. Craig will be remembered fondly for his contagious smile and laughter, sense of humor and genuine personality. Nothing brought him greater joy than being on the farm with his wife and having his children and grandchildren come home.

Craig is preceded in death by his brother, Rich Mensink. He is survived by his parents, Wendell and Cleo Mensink; siblings, Brenda (Dean) Tollefson, Dave (Tracie) Mensink, Cindy (Ron) Mensink, and Will (Patty) Mensink; and many nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Life was held at 11 a.m. Jan. 22 at the Christ Lutheran Church in Preston. In lieu of flowers the family has requested that memorial donations be made to Christ Lutheran Church. Hindt-Hudek Funeral Home of Preston is assisted the family.

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