Old Ned

Arizona Historymakers™

Arizona Historical Society

Chuck Lakin

1921 - 2013

Honored as Historymaker 2014

Ranching Innovator and Preservationist

Oral History Transcript:

Video by Pam Stevenson, Agave Productions Inc., for Historical League

Maxine Cortelyou Lakin and the late Charles Austin “Chuck” Lakin, Phoenix, are known as devoted volunteers and philanthropists. Both are University of Arizona graduates and their alma mater established the Lakin Family Plaza on the University of Arizona campus which honors the Lakins for their outstanding contributions to agriculture, preservation, education, community, and business in Arizona.

Chuck Lakin was a United States Army veteran who served with distinction in the horse cavalry in the China Burma India Theater during World War II, rising to the rank of first lieutenant and earning the Purple Heart and other commendations. Returning home to Arizona, he dedicated his life to working in and supporting the agricultural community. He was a horseman, cattleman, farmer, inventor and cowboy poet, who founded Lakin Milling Company in 1960.

Chuck invented a specialty feed for horses that is produced in Avondale, Arizona by the Lakin Milling Company and distributed worldwide. It was one of his proudest accomplishments, “I’d like to be remembered as the guy that introduced pelletized horse feed to the world. I don’t take any credit for developing the pellet system, but I do take credit for making it for horses. We tried feeding pellets to cattle and they didn’t do all that well. Since we were breeding Quarter horses at the time, we started feeding pellets to the horses, and they flourished on them.”

Maxine Lakin is an indefatigable community leader, volunteer, and determined preservationist. She is a member of the Junior League, Save Our Mountains Foundation, and Phoenix Zoo auxiliary board, to name a few organizations to which she belongs. She has received numerous honors and continues to faithfully serve our communities.

Maxine's leadership is legendary among those whom have known her efforts. As a school board member of Phoenix Union High School District, she recalls, “I had education in my background because I had taught school in Florence and I’d gone to Phoenix Union High School. I thought maybe I could be of some help as a board member. I was the first woman president and I tried to do the best I could while I was there. I missed one meeting in five years.”

Instrumental in leading the effort to establish the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, Maxine never wavered in her determination and vision for this grand project with its infinite future impact on millions of people.  She says, “I was a little concerned about building houses on the mountains because we needed the open space. So, I got involved with that. I served on the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board for five years, and was chairman at one time. I think people who lived in Phoenix took the desert for granted. We were concerned about parts of the preserve being sold or developed.” She was honored with a trail, off Seventh Avenue in Phoenix, “There’s a plaque that says, Maxine Lakin Trail. It was quite an honor.”

The Lakins donated land in the Southwest Valley to establish the Heritage Center at Lakin Farm that will preserve the Arizona farming and ranching experience. The Arizona Farming & Ranching Hall of Fame honors the legacy of pioneers in agriculture and will be part of the Heritage Center. Chuck was an honoree in 2008. Maxine says it is essential that agricultural history be preserved. Visitors to the Heritage Center will learn how Arizona was originally settled. Children from all over the state will experience a working farm for the first time. “I think it’s important that people realize that you don’t get chocolate milk from a brown cow.”