2800 N. Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4912



May 10, 2018

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:  Betty Thompson, 405-522-6105, betty.thompson@ag.ok.gov

Significant Women in Oklahoma Agriculture

Highlight: Doris Armbruster

By Bryan Painter

BURLINGTON – What more can you give to something than a lifetime?

Doris Armbruster, as her son Alan said, “Has spent her whole lifetime giving to agriculture.”

To lend perspective to what that means, consider what’s happened in Armbruster’s lifetime.

Armbruster is 92 years old. The year she was born, the first Sears retail store opened in Chicago and the Grand Ole Opry, known then as the “WSM Barn Dance,” began broadcasting. During her life there have been 16 U.S. Presidents.

Those facts, and many others, can be looked up.

However, through the years, Armbruster wasn’t satisfied with just giving people a look at agriculture. Armbruster, who lived many years in the Burlington area, wanted to make sure people got a real good taste of agriculture. That’s why she gave so many years of her life to leading and supporting the Oklahoma CattleWomen’s state Beef Cook-Off.

Family values

In the summer of 1925, Armbruster was born on July 6 to Margaret and C.B. Thomason on a farm in Alfalfa County near Burlington in northern Oklahoma.

“My father homesteaded in Alfalfa County,” she said. “He lived in a sod house until he married my mother in 1908.  The original homestead is still farmed by family members.  My mother came from Kansas and was the first school teacher in the County.  My parents were instrumental in advancing education, including construction of the first school house in the area.  Their involvement in the community was an example to me in my early years, which influenced me throughout my lifetime.”

The family raised wheat as well as Shorthorn and Hereford commercial cow herds and they had stocker calves.  Armbruster was very involved in tending to the livestock and, looking back, feels this taught her about the “Importance of good feeding and frequent care.”

Those days engrained in her the value of hard work and an appreciation of living in a rural community. That is why paying it forward became so important to Armbruster.

“It is important to pass on values to your family, just as your parents passed on theirs’,” Armbruster said. “Give the next generation the rewards of this way of life and the chance to raise their children the same way.”

The speech contest

One day, at a county speech contest, Armbruster met a fellow contestant named Robert L. Armbruster, whose family had a small farming operation of wheat, cattle and alfalfa. On Christmas Eve of 1943, they married.

The Armbrusters farmed with his family and then later began farming with Doris’ family as well. The latter, help expand land area and the number of livestock they could handle.

Doris and Robert also raised four children Stephen, Robert, Alan and Beth and now also have six grandchildren.

Over time on the farm, Doris helped make management decisions about farming and livestock operations. She also introduced new ideas to complement traditional practices. That way of thinking can also be traced to her childhood.

Armbruster said her parents “survived the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, saving the land through improved farming practices. They showed the importance of hard work and embracing change.”

A timeless recipe

In the mid-1970s, Armbruster became a member of the Cowbells, now known as the Oklahoma CattleWomen. The organization hosted an event sponsored by the Oklahoma Beef Council called the Oklahoma Beef Cook-Off. The Association’s mission is to promote efficient production of beef, educate consumers on the nutritional values of beef, and communicate goodwill within the communities and state. They believed a contest featuring tasty beef recipes was a great way to accomplish that mission.

Armbruster became Chairwoman of the Beef Cook-Off in 1993. She served in that role for about 15 years.

“It was an important way to promote the beef industry,” she said. “Through the years, there were more creative recipes featuring beef. Both the number of entries and categories increased over time.”

So many people in so many places have been encouraged by Armbruster to, “Eat more beef.” Why? She said those three words are the “Key story in promoting beef and its role in a healthy diet. My family has long been involved in the beef industry, and I want to help preserve it.”

Bonita Laske was among those who worked with Armbruster on the Cook-Offs.  At the mention of Armbruster’s name, Laske serves up a plate full of compliments.

In recalling those days, Laske said, “Doris was the nicest person in the world, very organized and never, ever said a bad thing about anybody. She was fun to work with and we all admired her and felt so honored to be on her team.”

There was a lot that had to be accomplished to put on a state Cook-Off, including securing a site, sponsors, decorations, prizes and much more. Plus, Laske said her friend also served several years as the scholarship chairman.

Laske said Armbruster has a way – a nice way – of accomplishing a goal.

“She just had a way with people and being the boss of people in the nicest way you could ever imagine,” Laske said. “She was our boss and she had it so well organized.”

Those compliments go very well with Armbruster’s belief of what it takes to make a good farmer and rancher.

“It’s important to have the ability to get along with other people and be involved in the community,” she said.

Tommy Puffingbarger is the Agriculture and 4-H Extension Educator for Alfalfa County. In addition to the state CattleWomen, he said Armbruster has served for many years with the Alfalfa County CattleWomen.

However, that’s not all.

“Every year without me having to call her, she will call me about the Alfalfa County 4-H Achievement Banquet,” he said. “That’s just her. If you need her, she’s there for you, every step of the way.”

Armbruster’s commitment is a recipe for agriculture and community success will always be cherished. 


Photo caption:  Doris Armbruster of Burlington is being recognized as a significant woman in Oklahoma agriculture.

Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series of stories on Significant Women in Oklahoma Agriculture. The project is a collaborative program between the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry and Oklahoma State University to recognize and honor the impact of countless women across all 77 counties of the state, from all aspects and areas of the agricultural industry. The honorees were nominated by their peers and selected by a committee of industry professionals.