‘The most interesting man in agriculture:’ Remembering Gary Beu

Shane Stryker

Gary Beu, an Agriculture and Food Science faculty member, passed away on January 6th.

Beu was a beloved member of the agriculture department, and head artisan cheesemaker at the Hilltopper Creamery, WKU’s own cheese production plant.

“Gary was instrumental in getting Hilltopper Creamery up and running,” Paul Woosley, director of the Agriculture and Food Science department, stated in an email, “He loved people and cheese, but most of all, loved talking about cheese with people.”

Beu lived an extravagant life, taking on professions such as banking, carpentry, aviation, and farming, before ending up at the Hilltopper Creamery.

His life was so astounding that Woosley would introduce Beu as “the most interesting man in agriculture” whenever conducting tours of the farm and creamery. 

“He would have a story that would top anything you could tell,” Woosley said.

However, life wasn’t about bravado for Beu. 

“He was more interested in learning and teaching what he had learned to others,” Woosley said. “He was the epitome of a life-long learner.”

Beu was known as “The Cheese Guy” in Alaska before he had even moved to Kentucky, making him vital in the start-up of the Hilltopper Creamery.

“If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have the Creamery,” Woosley said. “Once Gary was hired, within 2 to 3 months we had everything up and running and he was making cheese.”

Although Beu was known for his passion of cheese-making, that wasn’t the only thing that set him apart from others.

“He was a very humble individual, nothing was ever about him” Woosley said. “He cared more about living life, having fun, and learning.”

Woosley also talked about the lasting contributions that Beu has left with the agriculture department aside from his work at the creamery.

“His contributions to our department were his unselfishness, as well as his thirst to gain knowledge, and share it,” Woosley said.

A celebration of life was held at the L.D. Brown Ag. Expo on the 16th of January, where loved ones and friends of Gary Beu gathered to share their favorite memories of “the most interesting man in agriculture.”

Shane Stryker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @shanestryker.