Inducted: October 30, 1996
Lewis Sherman is reputed to have never backed away from a good argument, but his reasoned opinions have won him the respect and support of his fellow farmers. A brief biographical sketch termed him "an opinionated but rational observer of agricultural policy and current issues," a description that few would challenge.
Mr. Sherman was brought up on the family pioneer farm at Thamesville, the son of James Sherman and the former Myrtle George. He went to Thamesville Public School and Ridgetown District High School before attending the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph, where he earned an Honours B.Sc. in Agriculture. While at Guelph, he met Jean Little of Monroe, Michigan, and they were married in her home community in 1956.
After graduation, Mr. Sherman worked for the W.G. Thompson Grain Company before returning to the family farm. In the early years, the Shermans operated the typical mixed farm of that period, with cattle, pigs and a few chickens, sugar beets and grain crops.
From the first, Mr. Sherman was active in organizations dedicated to improving farming and the community. He was a 4-H corn club leader, a member of the school board and later, Reeve of Thamesville.
Mr. Sherman was named Kent County representative to the Ontario White Bean Growers' Marketing Board in 1969, before air pollution and the resultant bronzing eclipsed Kent white bean production, and shifted it east and north. In 1978, he was elected Chairman of the Ontario White Bean Growers' Marketing Board, and took a leading role in the global search for new markets. In all, as a member of four delegations, he visited 18 countries looking for new buyers for this important staple crop.
Mr. Sherman was President of the Kent Vegetable Growers' Association and a long-standing member of the Kent Federation of Agriculture. In 1994, he was honoured as the Chatham and District Chamber of Commerce "Agriculturalist of the Year."
Mr. Sherman served from 1986 to 1992 on the Ontario Farm Products Appeal Tribunal, and earned the respect and admiration of other members. One of them, Janet Parsons of Cache Bay, said she usually found herself in accord with Mr. Sherman's point of view--"we both believed in calling it as we saw it"!
She found Mr. Sherman "very honest and dedicated in his approach." This was combined with a respect for others' points of view and a determination to give them ample and honest consideration. Mr. Sherman "brought a vast amount of experience" to the Tribunal work, along with a healthy sense of humour. It was, for this fellow Tribunal member, "an honour to work with Lewis Sherman."
Closer to home, a long-term friend said that Mr. Sherman is known for his love of a good argument, "but he always knows what he is talking about."
The Shermans have four children: Margaret Waldner, Saskatoon; David, now operating the family farm; Louise, London; and Jane, at home.
A prominent Kent farmer recalled, "Lewis Sherman could always be counted on to put life into any farm meeting. He wasn't afraid to disagree with popular opinion when he was convinced that it was wrong. He had the courage of his convictions"!