Child of the Prairie
Man of the World
The Memoirs of LaVern “Vern” Freeh

By LaVern "Vern" Freeh with Lori Freeh Tufte, Germans from Russia Heritage Collections, North Dakota State University Libraries, North Dakota, 2005, 375 pages, softcover.

LaVern Freeh autographing his book at the Public Library during the Harvey, North Dakota Centennial, June 30, 2006. He is shaking hands with Dick Biever, teammate in high school track at Harvey.

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.

Shaking hands after signing agreement in China. Regent Wenda Moore is in the center.
With President and Mrs. Anwar Sadot in their Cairo, Egypt home.
Brownie and me before he was big enough to pull the wagon. I’m wearing my father’s hat.
Co-Captain Vern Freeh (#21) of the NDSU Bison football team. Neal Gustofsen, the other captain on my right and Clint McGeary who later played for the Green Bay Packers on my left.
Sitting in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia.
Awarded an Honorary American Farmer degree at National FFA convention in Kansas City, MO.

"A humble son of the soil recounts with candor, compassion and clarity, his fascinating journey from modest beginnings to prominence as an architect of the global village. The personal recollections in this book reverberate with the charitibility and gentle – often subtle – humor that are so characteristic of my dear friend Vern Freeh. His vast and various experiences will resonate with a wide variety of readers."

Ronald Roskens, Ph.D.
President, University of Nebraska, 1977-1988
Administrator, United States Agency of International Development, 1989-1992

"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 operation in 34 countries and continues to grow. What an accomplishment!"

"It’s a unique person who can write about himself with openness and candor. What this book reveals is the passion, decency, integrity and humanity of Vern Freeh."

Ralph Hofstad
President and CEO, Land O’Lakes, Inc. 1973-1989
Executive Director, Russian Farm Community
Project, Inc., 1992-present

"Vern Freeh is a great organizer/administrator and an imaginative story teller. These abilities are paramount in his memoirs. His warmth, humor, empathy for his fellowman, his faith in an all powerful God, and his strong love and confidence are 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 Vice President for Agriculture and Dean
Institute of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics
University of Minnesota

"LaVern Freeh always made my English classes very interesting and entertaining with his original interpretations of “what” the author was writing. Those talents are evident in this book."

Ione Kolbe Tebelius
High School English Teacher, 1940-1944

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Child of the Prairie, Man of the World

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At the request of the author, the proceeds from the sale of this book will be divided equally between the North Dakota State University Athletic Department and the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo, North Dakota.

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