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, Fargo.

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 Pigs.

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 development programs.

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, 1989-1992.

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 of Minnesota.

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 1940-1944

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller