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Valley cattleman Matt LaBrucherie dies at 89

March 24, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Matt LaBrucherie, a prominent Imperial Valley farmer and cattleman, died Friday in his El Centro home. He was 89.

Visitation for LaBrucherie will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday in St. Mary's Catholic Church in El Centro. Rosary will be said at 7 p.m.

Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Mary's Catholic Church with Monsignor Thomas Vidra officiating. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery in El Centro next to his wife, Jane, who died in 1985.

Friends and fellow farmers, cattlemen and businessman in the Imperial Valley said LaBrucherie cared about the Valley and the growth of agriculture.

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He was credited for his leadership as both a farmer and a cattleman.

"Matt was involved in most every aspect of Imperial Valley agriculture," said friend Bill Plourd, a partner with LaBrucherie in El Toro Export.

Plourd said LaBrucherie lived the majority of his life in the Valley, adding, "He was a piece of this Valley as it grew."

He added, "There isn't a part of agriculture that Matt wasn't involved in."

Jiggs Johnson, a partner with LaBrucherie in both El Toro Export and El Toro Land & Cattle Co., said, "He is probably one of the neatest people I've ever known."

Johnson added, "He's been a big farmer. He has really been involved in the whole agriculture industry in the Imperial Valley."

Friend and local farmer Frank Irigoyen said of LaBrucherie, "He was a great man. He was a humble man."

LaBrucherie was born in Los Angeles on Aug. 4, 1911. His parents, Anna and Jean Pierre, moved the family to the Imperial Valley in 1912.

He grew up in the McCabe school district area with this siblings, Pete and Rosalie.

He graduated from Central Union High School in El Centro in 1928 at age 16. He attended Imperial Valley College and Oregon State University before graduating from St. Mary's College in 1934 with a degree in business administration.

LaBrucherie then returned to the Valley to farm with his father and met and married Jane Robinson, an elementary school teacher from Los Angeles.

In 1942 the LaBrucheries had their first child, Suzanne, and in 1946 their son, Timothy, was born.

LaBrucherie grew crops such as cotton, Sudan grass, alfalfa, wheat, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, tomatoes, melons, asparagus, potatoes and sugar beets.

During the 1950s he was one of the founders of the McCabe Cattle Co. Starting his day before sunrise, he built many of the corrals with his own hands.

In 1966, along with his partners, he purchased another feedlot in Heber. The company was named El Toro Land & Cattle Co.

LaBrucherie was a founding partner in El Toro Grain Co. and El Toro Export, businesses, according to the family, that helped advance the agricultural economy in the Imperial Valley.

Along with his success as a farmer, LaBrucherie was known for his community involvement.

According to family, he believed in giving back to the community.

He served one year on the Imperial County grand jury and was president of the county Farm Bureau.

LaBrucherie was a founding member of the board of directors of El Centro Regional Medical Center.

For several years he was a director for the Western Growers Association.

In 1975 he was named a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest honor bestowed upon a Rotarian.

LaBrucherie was active in other organizations, including the Navy League, the Stockmen's Club, the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and the Elks.

He is survived by his daughter, Suzanne LaBrucherie Enis of Dana Point; his son and daughter-in-law, Timothy and Mary LaBrucherie of El Centro, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

The family suggests memorials to the Matthew J. LaBrucherie Scholarship Fund in care of the Imperial County Farm Bureau, 1000 Broadway, El Centro, CA 92243.

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