The dairy industry lost a leader on Monday with the passing of Doug Maddox, Holstein breeder and innovative dairyman from central California. He was 75.

Already, the tributes are coming in.

“Doug Maddox was a legend. He was ahead of his time and a visionary that I, like so many in the dairy industry around the globe, admired,” says John Meyer, CEO of Holstein Association USA. “Doug loved people, and people loved him. Bottom line: everybody wanted to be like Doug.”

Maddox grew up in Oklahoma, under “dirt-poor” conditions, as described in this video. His family did not operate a dairy farm, but that didn’t stop him from entering the dairy industry as a teenager, when a neighbor gave him a bull calf to raise and show. When he graduated from college, he had grown his herd to 14 cows and 14 heifers.

He went on to establish RuAnn and Maddox Dairies in Riverdale, Calif., which together have more than 5,000 Registered Holstein cows and 12,000 total animals.

On his farms, he was an innovator, credited with building one of the first free-stall barns in California.

In the dairy industry, he became known as a mover and a shaker.

He was past president of California DHIA and Holstein Association USA. He received numerous awards, including the National Dairy Shrine Distinguished Cattle Breeder Award, World Ag Expo Outstanding Dairy Producer of the Year, and Cal Poly Outstanding Alumni in the School of Agriculture.