April 11, 2019 – Reynolds Alumni Ctr.

2008 Honorary Member: John Riffle

John Riffle

JOHN RIFFLE’s career has spanned many professions. He was an intelligence officer for the U.S. military, advised President Harry S Truman, worked for the American Red Cross in Europe, directed public relations and sales for a Kansas City meat company and operated a successful family farm.

Riffle was born and raised on a farm near Pleasant Hill, Mo., a farm actively worked by his family for more than 125 years. He was an active 4-H member as a youth, and continues his involvement with the organization as a 4-H Alumni Award recipient, donating his time to the organization.

Riffle entered military service at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. four days before the attack at Pearl Harbor. He retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel. For his service he earned two Presidential Citations and the Air Force commendation medal. He briefed President Truman regarding the situation in postwar Europe. Truman personally autographed the back of Riffle’s colonel’s insignia with “HST.”


"JOHN AND HIS WIFE JEAN REPRESENT ALL THAT IS BEST ABOUT RURAL LEADERS. THEY ARE UNSELFISH WITH THEIR TIME IN SUPPORT OF AGRICULTURE, RURAL YOUTH, RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION. JOHN PERSONIFIES THE 4-H MOTTO, TO MAKE THE BEST BETTER. HE IS UNTIRING IN HIS COMMITMENT TO CAUSES THAT IMPROVE THE EDUCATION AND QUALITY OF LIFE IN RURAL MISSOURI."

— Ken Schneeberger, MU professor of agricultural economics


After serving with the American Red Cross in postwar Europe, he returned to the Midwest and served as public relations director and sales manager for the Williams Meat Company in Kansas City for 25 years. Williams was famous in the Kansas City area for purchasing the American Royal Grand Champion Steer and inventing the Kansas City Strip steak.

He serves on the Missouri State Fair Foundation Board and on the Youth in Agriculture Committee of the Missouri State Fair. In recognition of their contributions to agriculture, he and his wife Jean received the 2002 Farm Family Award, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, at the American Royal Livestock show in Kansas City. Riffle was co-author of the 100-year history of the American Royal published during its centennial celebration.

John and Jean were named the 2006 Family of the Year by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. He received an honorary Chapter FFA degree.