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Hanford, CA Auctioneer Peter Belezzuoli Leaves Legacy Behind
December 18, 2016

HANFORD – Peter Belezzuoli, the well-known auctioneer from Overland Stockyard, died this week at the age of 61 from what appears to have been a heart attack, leaving a huge void in the local dairy and agriculture scene.

(Photo: Overland Stockyard)

(Photo: Overland Stockyard)

Those who knew the man with the name nobody could spell paints a portrait of someone who had an outsized influence all over the western half of the U.S., everywhere from Kansas to California and places in between.

If there were beef or dairy cattle to be sold, it seemed Belezzuoli was there, the familiar cadence of his auctioneer’s voice providing a steady rhythm people came to rely on.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who just had more passion and love for what he did,” said Hanford resident Rick Conway, who was Belezzuoli’s attorney and close friend for a quarter century.

“He was a huge player in the community,” said Josh Bettencourt, president of the Kings County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

Belezzuoli was best known in the world of dairy cattle and beef cattle sales, but his presence spread more widely in the community through charity auctions he volunteered his time for.

Bettencourt recalls Belezzuoli donating his time to the Kings Guild, which raises money for Valley Children’s Hospital.

“He was a community business guy,” said David Howze, who knew Belezzuoli for the better part of 40 years, much of that working alongside him at Overland. “He was just a great local businessman.”

Belezzuoli was also known as an innovator.

Early on, he added internet video auction capability to Overland Stockyard, giving it a broader reach than just the regional San Joaquin Valley market in and around Kings County.

He didn’t invent the practice, but he might have been the first to start the service in the Kings County area, according to Bettencourt.

People from other parts of the country could buy cattle even though the auctions were physically held in Hanford.

That broader notoriety opened other avenues for Belezzuoli.

Before long, he found himself traveling to other states to do auctions.

“It opened up the door for him to work down in New Mexico and Arizona and other portions of the country,” said Bettencourt. “People were really interested in his ability to think outside the box.”

“It’s just amazing how much cattle, beef and dairy that he moved, and the sales that he did all across the U.S.,” said Lemoore-area dairyman Jake DeRaadt.

DeRaadt was part of the regular scene at Overland, where Belezzuoli could be counted on to preside over auctions on a regular basis.

Another guy who would hang around at Overland’s many sales was longtime Hanford dairyman Joaquin Contente.

Belezzuoli’s death this week caught him by surprise.

“It was just really devastating to hear that,” Contente said. “It’s going to have a big impact on the cattle industry, not only dairy but also beef.”

Contente described Belezzuoli as a “total gentleman.”

“I never saw him get mad at anybody,” Contente said. “Very calm. A very good businessman. He had some patience.”

Contente said auctioneers sometimes get a bad reputation for trying to gouge buyers.

He said that wasn’t the case with Belezzuoli.

Others offered a similar take on the way Belezzuoli conducted himself in business.

“He was honest,” DeRaadt said. “He took care of buyers and sellers.”

In recent years, Belezzuoli played a prominent role as the auctioneer selling off many local dairy herds negatively affected by downturns in the California dairy industry.

His connections all over the West helped him as the local market struggled.

Belezzuoli continued to preside over auctions all over the U.S., in states like Texas, New Mexico and Idaho.

“He’s done some very big sales,” DeRaadt said. “He left awfully big shoes to fill.”

“He’s just going to be greatly missed,” Howze said. “I think it would be hard for anybody to walk in his shoes.”

By Seth Nidever, Staff Reporter
Source: Hanford Sentinel


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