Sky King Ranch History

Tom and Marilyn Zone
welcome you to
visit Sky King Ranch.

Hello and welcome to
breeders of registered Angus
cattle, your source for the
"Finest Foundation Females".

        Sky King Ranch is owned and operated by Tom and Marilyn Zone. We are located in Sanford , North Carolina, which is nearly the geographic center of the state. I began breeding angus cattle in 1955 when I received the gift of a cow from my grandfather. I have been a member of the American Angus Association for 44 years. Upon graduation from high schooI, I sold the small herd that I had built to attend college at the University of Notre Dame.

        After college there was a tour of duty with the Air Force as an instructor pilot and then as a pilot with Trans World Airlines . It wasn’t until 1977 that the move to Sanford, North Carolina allowed us the opportunity to return to the breeding of select Angus cattle.

        In 1977 the farm was purchased, barns built, and fences erected. It was then time to get started . With the selection of three ,fine, bred cows from the herd of Sam Greenwood and the fortunate coincidence that all three had heifer calves, the herd was underway. Our youngest daughter Maria, joined in the operation during her school years and showed our cattle at the county fair with great success.

        We are proud to be active in the North Carolina Angus Association and I have served on the Board of Directors and as President of the organization for two terms . In 1998 I was the recipient of the dedication of the Association ‘s annual handbook. This honor from my fellow breeders was the most overwhelming and appreciated honor in my Angus career.

        For health reasons we dispersed our herd in the spring of 1999 . Following a return to health we began rebuilding the herd with the selection of the "The Finest Females"

It is the offspring from these great cattle , with modern pedigrees and top E PD’s that we offer to you.

If you want the Finest Foundation Females to start or add to your herd then contact :
Tom Zone
2151 Cotten Rd.
Sanford , NC   27330
Home: 919-775-7507
Cell: 919-770-5544

(The North Carolina Angus Association dedicated the 1998 Member Handbook to Thomas Joseph Zone)

"He makes decisions based on what is good for the Association, not what is good for himself," said Bruce Shankle about Tom Zone. Six years of active, thoughtful service as a Board member, one year as Vice-President and two years as President of the North Carolina Angus Association are a significant contribution to the organization and its members.

Bette Laursen, Executive Secretary when Zone was president, recalls, "When a situation needing executive attention arose, I would call Tom and ask for direction. He would ask pertinent questions, and there would be silence for a couple of minutes. Then he would say, 'This is what we need to do,' and it would be a good, firm, unwavering decision. He made the work of the Association business-like, and therefore easier to manage."

Tom Zone's contributions to the North Carolina Angus Association have taken many forms. He has been everything from chairman of the Grievance Committee from its inception until last year, to perennial ring master of the Spring Fever Sale, moving the cows around with aplomb to show them to their best advantage. He planned the Spring Regional Meetings and Tours for the Association in 1996.

Zone's interest in Angus cattle started early in his life. Born and raised in the finger-lake region of upstate New York, Tom had the opportunity to work with cattle early. "From the time I was old enough to walk," he said, "I followed my neighbor, Oliver Wicks, around his farm." Zone's grandfather, Peter Doran, gave him money for his first registered Angus calf in 1955 when Tom graduated from eighth grade, and at that time, Zone became a lifetime member of the American Angus Association. In recent years, he has also been a member of the North Carolina delegation to the American Angus Association Annual Meeting.

He was active in 4-H, having many livestock projects, and today is an avid supporter of the N.C. Junior Angus Association. Zone owned registered Angus cattle until he became a student at Notre Dame University and couldn't be around to do the work. Upon graduation with a degree in Finance, Zone joined the Air Force and became a pilot, and then flying instructor, flying T-37's and T-38's jet trainers. After five years, he became a civilian again, for eight years piloting long distance flights for Trans World Airlines. Relocating to Sanford, N.C. in 1976, Tom has had a career with Coty, Inc., a world wide cosmetic and perfume manufacturer. He is currently Vice-President of Production.

Tom and Marilyn Zone have known each other since kindergarten and were high school sweethearts; and they have been married for 35 years. Marilyn has worked as a real estate broker for the past 20 years. She said, "We finally realized a lifelong dream in 1978 when we purchased land for a farm and then started buying Black Angus bred heifers." Their first three purchases were from the late Sam Greenwood, who was a longtime N.C. Angus Association member from Sanford. Luckily, those heifers each had heifer calves and those six cows formed the foundation of their herd. The cattle at Sky King Ranch now number about 50, all of which are bred artificially each year to produce those good females that Zone wants. On a farm tour a few years ago, Zone said, "What I'm aiming for is to produce marketable females that are easy fleshing, have good milking abilities, and moderate frame. I'm not trying to breed the biggest bulls; my interest is in producing excellent females, but actually the two go hand in glove." He continues to act on that good philosophy.

Zone did almost all of the work at Sky King Ranch himself, right down to digging the fence posts by hand. He built fences, ponds, and two barns, and established pasture. The Zones purchased, as Marilyn called it, "a dilapidated Southern Railroad bay-sided caboose," which they renovated for a distinctive and functional farm office. A spur line for what used to be the Norfolk and Southern Railroad borders their property and a train passes by once each day. Early on, as Tom was out putting in fence posts, he would wave at the engineer as he went by. It wasn't long before the engineer would stop and check on Tom's progress.

Zone is very active in the Lee County Cooperative Extension programs. He has been President of the Lee County Advisory Council, a post he has held for eight years. He has exhibited his cattle almost every year at the county fair. He is a member of the N.C. Cattlemen's Association and has been a county delegate to the Annual Meeting.

Tom and Marilyn Zone are the proud parents of three daughters. Maria, the youngest, is still involved with the Sky King cattle, maintaining ownership of several cows and membership in the American Angus Association. She owns and operates Advantage Advertising, in Charleston where she produces a travel magazine for the area. Laurie is an assistant hospital administrator in Charleston and Christine is a pharmacist in Sanford at Central Carolina Hospital. The Zones, "Bompa and Gramma," are proud grandparents to two granddaughters and two grandsons.

The North Carolina Angus Association is proud and honored to dedicate this 1998 North Carolina Angus Association handbook to Tom Zone.

Published in the North Carolina Angus Association 1998 Handbook

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