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Norm Atkins of Continental Holsteins Passes

It’s with deep regret that we share our condolences to the family and friends of Norm.  Sadly, on July 27, 2019, at the age of 71, Norman John Atkins from Millet, Alberta passed away. Norm and his wife Marj ran the prestigious herd Continental Holsteins. With Norm’s passing, the Canadian dairy industry has lost a true legacy.

Beloved husband, brother, brother-in-law, step-father/grandfather/great-grandfather, uncle/great-uncle, and friend – passed away on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at Leduc, Alberta at the age of 71 years.  Norman was born in Calgary on November 14, 1947 and grew up on a dairy farm at Springbank, Alberta.  Norman attended Springbank High School where he developed athletic skills in curling, hockey, and basketball, graduating in 1966.  He was an avid member of the Springbank 4-H Dairy Club where he developed many of his judging skills and he farmed with his parents at Springbank, Red Deer, and Priddis until 1973.

In 1974, Norman married his soulmate, Marjorie Haynes (nee Schaber), and they purchased a farm south of Leduc where they settled with Marj’s children, Jack and Carolyn.  Over the years, Norm and Marj developed an outstanding herd of Holsteins under the prefix Continental resulting in great success on the show circuit including Grand Champion wins at the Royal Winter Fair and World Dairy Expo.  Marj’s son, Jack, and grandson, Bill, were part of the Continental team and, along with Norman and Marj, gained the reputation for breeding some of Western Canada’s most outstanding Holsteins helping to put Western Canada on the map as a supplier of elite genetics.  They were honoured to receive the coveted Master Breeder award in 1988 from the Holstein Association of Canada.  Continental Farms hosted provincial and national judging schools for twenty years.

Norman was a skilled cattleman and well-respected leader in the dairy industry in Canada.  He was an Official Judge with Holstein Canada and judged many shows across Canada and internationally.  Norman served as President of the Alberta Holstein Association in 1987.  Between 1984 and 2004 he was a member and past-chair of the Alberta Milk Recording Board which, after collaboration with the provincial government resulted in the Alberta Dairy Herd Improvement Service and ultimately CanWest DHI.

One of Norman’s Holstein mentors was the late Curtis Clark of Acme Holsteins and in 1991 he was privileged to be the recipient of the Curtis Clark Achievement Award at the Royal Winter Fair.  The Award honours leading Holstein breeders in Canada for their skills in breeding and showing cattle combined with good sportsmanship.

Norman and Marj were honoured by the Holstein Association of Canada with the prestigious award “Certificate of Superior Accomplishment” in 2016.  The award was for their exceptional contribution in the marketing and promotion of the Holstein Breed through leadership and mentorship as respected ambassadors of the Canadian Dairy Industry.

Norman was passionate about all aspects of the cattle industry and served as a dairy 4-H leader for many years.  In later years, Norman’s love of great livestock extended beyond Holsteins and led to his partnership with Hamilton Farms in the breeding and showing of Angus cattle, several of which achieved Supreme Champion status.

Norman was hard-working, dedicated, kind, generous, friendly, and a true friend.  He was always willing to help neighbours and fellow breeders.  He had a great sense of humour and enjoyed spending time with family and friends.  He has left us with many wonderful memories and an exceptional legacy in the Holstein industry.

Norman is survived by his brother Gordon Atkins (Jo Anne), step-children Jack Haynes and Carolyn Haynes (Tom DeWaal), step-grandchildren John Haynes (Anna Zorisky) and Bill, step-great-grandson, Kaiden Zorisky-Haynes, Nephew Doug Atkins (Esther), Niece Kerry Atkins (John Webb), Niece Christine Goodwin (Sean), and numerous great-nieces and nephews.  Norman was predeceased by his wife, Marjorie Atkins (June 25, 2019) and his parents, John and Elizabeth (Betty) Atkins.

Roger Turner shares that ” It was an honor to work with Norm & Marj, they were great mentors. Their influence has made a permanent impact on the industry. They received numerous awards through the years , my fondest are with you and Acme Star Lily. Love you both, let the Continental Holsteins trail be felt forever.” 

“A herd where cows were bred for longevity, frame, dairyness, udder quality and outstanding traits that made Canadian cattle renowned and sought-after world wide.” commented Wendy Weir. “Contintental Holsteins was part of the golden age of the Canadian Holstein industry.”

Callum McKinven shares, “Norm and Marj were two of the most Knowledgeable and passionate cow people you could ever know, anybody’s life’s they touched are truly blessed.”

Doug Brown from Browndale comments that “Anyone that got to know them became friends. Great couple, great team and great friends to so many of us.”

A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, August 13th 2019 at 1:00 PM at 5290 45 Ave, Millet, AB. Contributions in memory of Norman can be made to the Rollyview 4-H Dairy Club c/o Heidi de Lange (club leader), 49079 Range Road 230, Leduc County, Alberta T0B 3M3 or, or to your local 4-H Club.

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