Kansas Wheat recognizes passing of Joe Kejr
Posted April 11, 2023
“Joe was very passionate about being a wheat farmer and also an advocate and leader in wheat — and did all exceptionally well,” said Justin Knopf, immediate past president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and close family friend. “His example, steady presence, leadership and friendship will be sorely missed by so many of us here in his community and across the country.”
Joe returned home to the family farm near Brookville, Kansas, about 40 years ago, carrying on a tradition of growing and harvesting wheat for three generations. He farmed with his wife Geena, their son Josh and wife Brittany, nephew Nathan and wife Rebecca, and his brother Mel and wife Janet. Joe and Geena raised their children in the same house that Joe grew up in, and the partnership between his family members sharing the farming lifestyle was a joy.
“It’s just a great experience to be able to do what you love and have your family doing it with you,” Joe told Kansas Wheat in 2017. “The times that you are able to spend together and the memories you create are things I will always cherish.”
Wheat harvest was Joe’s favorite time of year. He shared with Kansas Wheat that he loved the long hours spent with family and friends, the adrenaline of trying to beat a storm, the quiet peace and camaraderie of supper time in the field and sharing the experience of harvest with younger generations. He and his crew also loved the challenge of trying to be the last truck to go through the elevator each day. At the end of harvest, the couple had a big “last supper” at their house with everyone who came to help — one of Joe’s favorite times to share stories with family and crew.
Joe also shared a lifetime of lessons learned as a longtime leader in the wheat industry — both in Kansas and nationally. He was on the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers board of directors from 2002-10, serving as president in 2007, and he served as the 2022 president of the National Wheat Foundation. Kejr Family Farms was also a favorite stop during wheat harvest. Joe and Geena hosted countless groups over the years, including hosting finalists for the National Festival of Breads. The couple was always willing to share stories about their land and working it together as a family.
“He loved being a wheat farmer — thoughtfully growing, observing and discussing the crop throughout each unique season,” Knopf said. “We will miss his focus and efforts on building relationships, trust and unity throughout the industry.”
After a lifetime well spent, Joe will be laid to rest during a graveside committal service at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 13, at the Brookville Cemetery, followed by the funeral service at 11:00 a.m. at First Covenant Church in Salina. Read Joe’s full obituary and memorial information at https://www.salina.com/obituaries/phut0465775.
Take one last trip in the combine with Joe and Geena and learn more about Kejr Family Farms through a video captured during the 2016 wheat harvest at https://eatwheat.org/stories/kejr-family-farms/.
Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat