Baxter Freese, 87, of Iowa City, formerly of Wellman, died Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, after a courageous struggle with cancer. Baxter was a prominent farmer, businessman and spokesman for the agriculture industry in Iowa for almost 40 years.
Born Feb. 10, 1926, in Clarence, Iowa, the son of Eldie and Gladys (Kammeyer) Freese, Baxter graduated from Clarence High School in 1943. After a brief time at the University of Iowa, he enlisted and served in the U.S. Navy, Pacific Theater, during World War II. In 1949, he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics from Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa. While at Cornell, he met his future wife, Mary Foster and they married in 1950. Baxter worked in the Mechanicsville Bank before moving to Wellman to help manage the Foster Farms and Maplecrest Turkey Farms.
While involved with farming, Baxter was an advocate for Iowa farmers and farm products. He served as president of the Iowa Turkey Federation and Iowa Beef Producers, helped found Iowa Cattlemen’s Association; was its charter president and later a board member of the National Cattlemen’s Association. He also served as chairman of the Agriculture Council of America. Baxter believed his most significant contribution was helping to create the U.S. Meat Export Federation that promoted international markets for U.S. meat; he received their first Distinguished Service Award and continued as an active supporter and promoter for many years. He was elected to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Hall of Fame and was chosen as an honorary member of the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity at Iowa State University. He served on the Iowa Conservation Commission and helped establish the first Iowa Wildlife Art Exhibition. He was also instrumental in helping create the Iowa Peace Institute.
Their love of travel and exploration took Baxter and Mary to most states and many countries. They easily gathered new friends wherever they went and always promoted Midwestern values and Iowa products. They opened their home to people interested in Iowa agriculture, including many foreign dignitaries. Baxter’s love for photography helped document many of their adventures and provided a photo essay of the Iowa City floods of 2008. He was a frequent contributor to The Gazette and Iowa City Press Citizen editorial pages.
In addition to his wife Mary, Baxter’s survivors include three daughters, Jane Freese Weber, Fort Worth, Texas, Kathryn Freese Lindstrom, Switzerland and Anne Freese Troyer, Kalona; two sons, John Freese of Rocky Comfort, Mo. and Jim Freese, Fairfield; a sister, Beverly Nikolic of Santa Monica, Calif.; and 10 grandchildren.
To further research and education, Baxter donated his body to the University of Iowa. A private family memorial is planned for a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to Iowa City Hospice or Camp Courageous.
Online condolences can be sent to the family through the web at www.gayandciha.com.
The family would like to thank Baxter’s many friends, Iowa City Hospice and the staff of Pleasantview Nursing Home for their care and kindness.
Published in The Gazette Feb. 13, 2013.