Child of the Prairie |
Man of the World
The Memoirs of LaVern “Vern”
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
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.
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,
"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."
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
"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
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
review by Reuben Tschritter