NDSU graduate LaVern Freeh writes memoirs
September 1, 2005
The North Dakota State University Libraries is pleased
to announce the publication of the new book, “Child of the
Prairie, Man of the World,” the memoirs of Dr. LaVern Freeh,
a native of Harvey, ND and a graduate of North Dakota State University,
Freeh grew up in a German-Russian family near Harvey, speaking
German and English in his youth while attending a country school.
In his memoirs, Freeh makes you feel you are right there with him:
Beginning with his birth without a doctor on his mother’s
birthday, on a hot, dusty day in July. You are with him as he works
and plays during his childhood, “When his best friends all
had four legs,” and you experience his adolescent years working
on the farm, riding race horses, getting into mischief, and graduating
from Harvey High School.
Be with him when he enlists in the Marines right after high school,
and later teaches in a one-room country school. In addition, cheer
with him when he is recruited to play football at NDSU, is named
Captain and Most Valuable Player, elected student body president,
becomes an honor student, and marries the girl of his dreams.
After graduating from college, follow him into a successful career
as a high school agricultural teacher and football coach for six
years. Then Freeh goes to Michigan State University where he serves
as a student assistant on the football staff, and a graduate assistant
in Agricultural Education. He also produces and hosts a television
program, and receives his masters and Ph.D. degrees in six years.
Freeh then goes to the University of Minnesota where he serves
in a variety of positions: Head of the Department of Agricultural
Short Courses, Assistant Dean of Agriculture, Forestry and Home
Economics, and Director of International Programs for the University,
and travels the world during his 18-year tenure.
Finally, you travel with him when he leaves the University to take
a new position at Land O’ Lakes, Incorporated as Vice President
of International Development, and where he becomes increasingly
involved in Washington, D.C. and internationally, involving 65 countries
on five continents.
You are with him on government assignments, behind the Iron Curtain
during the Cold War and to Castro’s Cuba after the Bay of
You will be there when he serves under three U.S. Presidents: Carter,
Reagan, and George H. W. Bush on our nation’s International
Aid and Development Projects.
You will feel the satisfaction, he feels, when he sees the happiness
on the faces of people who are being assisted through these international
Through all this, he never forgets his roots: his family and all
the people who make it possible to do what he does and always finds
time for his wife and family.
As you read his book, you will laugh and rejoice with him, and
also worry with him and finally you will cry with him when he loses
his wife, Mabes, of 43 years to cancer.
Then you will move on with him, thanks to the love and support
of his children, grandchildren, friends, God and a wonderful woman
named Lois who becomes his wife.
To order “Child of the Prairie, Man of the World,”
send $25.00 + $4.00 postage payable to NDSU Library, Mail to: Germans
from Russia Heritage Collection, Child of the Prairie Book, NDSU
Libraries, P.O. Box 5599, Fargo, North Dakota 58105-5599. Website
to order is library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/general/prairie_child.html
Here is what the reviewers are saying about the book:
A humble son of the soil, Freeh recounts with candor, compassion,
and clarity, his fascinating journey from the modest beginnings
to prominence as an architect of the Global Village. It is a unique
person who can write about himself with such openness and gentle,
often subtle, humor, which are so characteristic of Vern Freeh.
His experiences will resonate with a broad spectrum of readers.
Ronald Roskens, President, University of Nebraska, 1977-1988
and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development,
In summing up Vern’s life, I think of another man of distinction...
Abraham Lincoln, the rail-splitter. He too came from humble beginnings
and worked his way steadily to the highest office in the land. He
had the qualities of wisdom, tremendous energy, vision, and unbeatable
determination. I think you will agree that the life reflected in
these memories exhibit those qualities. There is yet another trait
I admire about the author, he never let his wife or children feel
that they were any less important than his career, quite unusual
for a “man of the world.”
Gerow Smiley, DVM Redlands California.
Vern Freeh is a great organizer/administrator and an imaginative
storyteller. These abilities are paramount in his memoirs. His warmth,
humor, empathy for his fellow man, his faith in an all powerful
God, his strong love and confidence with Mabes, his wife of 43 years,
and now with Lois, wife and unforgettable love and friend. All this
is woven together in an interesting and satisfying tale of a full
life, not yet complete. What a legacy Vern leaves to us all who
have known him in many relationships; but especially to his children,
grandchildren, and all those to follow.
William (Bill) Hueg, Jr. Ph.D., Former V.P. for Agriculture and
Dean Institute of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics, University
In 1981, I asked Dr. Vern Freeh to leave academia and launch a
new venture for Land O’ Lakes. It was one of the best things
I ever did. With his strong handshake, he said “Yes,”
and the Land O’ Lakes International Development Subsidiary
was born and launched. Today it is operating in 34 counties and
continues to grow. What an accomplishment! It is a unique person
who can write about himself with the openness and candor. What this
book reveals is the compassion, decency, integrity, and humanity
of Vern Freeh.
Ralph Hofstad, President and CEO Land O’ Lakes Inc., 1973-1989,
and Executive Director Russian Farm Community Project, 1992-2004
LaVern Freeh always made my English classes very interesting and
entertaining with his original interpretation of “what the
author was writing.” These talents are evident in his book.
Ione Kolbe Tebelius, Harvey, ND High School English Teacher from