Culver's co-founders among Hall of Fame honorees


This year’s inductees into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame will be recognized at a ceremony on May 3. The honorees, who have made outstanding lifetime contributions to the meat business, are Larry Clark, owner of Lodi Sausage Company & Meat Market; George, Ruth, Craig and Lea Culver, co-founders of Culver’s restaurant; and Kathy Glass, microbiologist with the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Larry Clark

After graduating from the UW–Madison’s Meat & Animal Science program in 1966, Clark took a position at Oscar Mayer as a livestock buyer working with regional hog farmers to help recruit the needed supply of hogs to the Madison plant.

Larry Clark

In 1989, he was able to realize his dream of owning his own business by purchasing the Lodi Locker, now the Lodi Sausage Company & Meat Market, located in Lodi, Wisconsin. The business is a model small meat plant, known and respected for high-quality, locally-sourced fresh and processed meat products.

Clark has shared his time and talents with the meat industry and his community which includes building the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Meat Products Auction into a significant fundraiser for Wisconsin 4-H, lending his expertise to the Wisconsin DNR and other organizations when CWD emerged in the state’s deer population.

Culver family

Culver’s restaurant co-founders George Culver, Ruth Culver, Craig Culver, and Lea Culver built their legacy by following the credo to “do the right thing” for guests, team members and the community.

George and Ruth Culver (top) Craig and Lea Culver (below) co-founders of Culver’s restaurant.

In 1984, they established the first Culver’s restaurant in Sauk City, Wis.. The first two years proved challenging, as frozen custard was not well-known in the area. By following the motto “don’t mess with the quality,” however, the business started to thrive.

All of the co-founders were hands-on. Ruth and Lea were in the front of the restaurant, providing service and hospitality while Craig worked the grill, searing ButterBurgers to perfection, and George was in charge of the food preparation area

The first successful franchised restaurant opened in 1990. Today Culver’s has over 700 restaurants in 25 states.

Kathy Glass

Glass grew up on a farm in Edgar, Wis., where the knowledge she gained in food production sparked her interest in science, and she developed the work ethic that would help her build a professional career as a food microbiologist.

Kathleen Glass

In 1985, she joined the Food Research Institute (FRI) at the UW–Madison, where her first project involved exploring the use of sodium lactate as a substitute for sodium nitrite to control Clostridium botulinum. Glass is now FRI’s associate director and runs the institute’s Applied Food Safety Laboratory, which conducts practical research and testing of food formulations, with the goal of identifying strategies to inhibit microbial growth and toxin production.

The results generated in her FRI lab are beneficial to meat companies, ingredient suppliers and consumers, and her expertise is sought by companies and regulators alike. She has served on the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s standing committee on food safety and the USDA/FDA National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods, helping to guide policy on food safety in meat products.

Event Details

The Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame induction luncheon ceremony will take place on Friday, May 3 at noon at the Dejope Residence Hall, in the Mendota Room, on the UW–Madison campus. Tours of the new Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery building will be offered prior to and following the luncheon. The cost to attend the event is $40.

Register online by April 25 at: