SALINA, KAN. — Joyce Vanier Hale, whose family’s flour milling business became the cornerstone of ADM Milling Co., died June 19 at the age of 97.
Born in Salina, Kan., Ms. Vanier was the oldest child of John J. and Lesta Vanier. Ms. Hale graduated from Salina High School and then Mills College in Oakland, Calif., with a degree in economics. An adventurous young woman, Ms. Hale piloted her own plane over the San Francisco Bay during her California days. She returned to Salina and joined her father’s businesses, starting with milling — Western Star Milling Co. According to family lore, Ms. Hale nearly blew up a mill laboratory while conducting a mill test, after which she became involved in the CK Ranch, the family’s LARGE livestock business. Over time, the CK Ranch included farm and ranch properties near Hunter, Dorrance, Herington, Manhattan and Salina in Kansas.
Ms. Hale met her future husband H.D. (Joe) Hale on a blind date in 1951. Mr. Hale had moved to Salina with John Deere Co. The two married later that year, and Mr. Hale joined Western Star Milling. For the next 10 years, Mr. Hale received hands-on training from his father-in-law.
“In those days, our offices had double desks, and I sat across from Mr. Vanier,” Mr. Hale recalled in a 1990 interview. “For more than 10 years he monitored every one of my phone calls and every letter I dictated. But I also got to listen to him and to learn from him.”
When Western Star was sold to Archer Daniels Midland Co. in 1970, making ADM a major player in milling, Mr. Hale became a vice president of the flour division. He served as president of ADM Milling for many years, during which the company grew to become the largest milling company in the United States. He served as chairman of the Millers’ National Federation. Ms. Hale regularly attended MNF meetings with her husband.
In addition to raising six children, Ms. Hale owned Cedar Creek Ranch, where she raised championship Hereford cattle. Her other interests included photography, raising horses, tennis, bridge, reading and travel.
The Hales helped fund the Hale Arena at the American Royal in Kansas City, Hale Library at Kansas State University in Manhattan, the Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT television in Kansas City and numerous scholarships and projects at the University of Kansas and Kansas Wesleyan University.
A tugboat named for Ms. Hale, the M/V Joyce Hale, still navigates the waters of the Mississippi River, towing barges of grain for export. The vessel on June 26, 2023, was reported to have departed a day early from Quincy, Ill., and was headed for Saint Paul, Minn.
Ms. Hale was preceded in death by her husband of 48 years in 1999 and by her brother John (Jack) Vanier earlier this year. She is survived by her six children: John (Innes), Kansas City; Dana Nelson (Doug), Mission Hills, Kan.; Karen Young, Williston, Fla.; Alan (Kathy), Salina, Kan.; Lisa Hale, Naples, Fla.; and Mollie Carter, Denver; 15 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.A memorial service will be held at the First Methodist Church in Salina on Monday, July 10 at 3 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to The American Royal, 1701 American Royal Court, Kansas City, MO 64102.