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In Memoriam: Dean Coleman

Article cover photo
Those who knew Dean Coleman best remember his tireless dedication to the soybean industry and the boards in which he served. Dean passed away this week. He was 62. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Iowa and America’s soybean families are mourning the passing of Dean Coleman of Humboldt. The long-time ag leader died earlier this week from injuries sustained in a farm-related accident.  

Coleman was serving on the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) Board of Directors. He had previously been a director on the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) board, serving as president, vice president, treasurer and at-large. Coleman also chaired the ISA Supply and Demand, Public Affairs and Information & Education committees. He was 62. 

The third-generation farmer worked with his wife, Carol, and son Mike, growing soybeans and corn. The family has hosted several foreign buyer groups, in addition to area school children to plant soybeans and corn in the spring and harvest in the fall.  

Coleman held numerous positions at the county level with Farm Bureau, served on the county extension council, fair board treasurer and president and was a board member for a biodiesel plant start up.  

He’s survived by his wife Carol and sons Nick and Mike.

Soybean leaders from across the state offered thoughts and reflections in remembrance of a man who impacted the soybean industry in such a profound way.  

"I remember Dean coming onto the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board in 2001. He was a great listener. His responses to questions were measured and well thought out. Quiet persona, but when Dean spoke, you listened! He worked extremely well with researchers on the checkoff side. Our friendship grew as the years went by. We had farm ground next to each other, so we were always comparing notes. Dean was always there for me if I had a breakdown in the field. I've lost a good friend, but the net Dean cast in his neighborhood, school district and the state and national soybean world can't be replaced. A devastating loss for all who knew Dean."   Jim Legvold, Vincent

Former ISA President Tom Oswald presented Dean Coleman with a leadership award in recognition of his work on the ISA board from 2006 to 2015. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

“When I was recruited to serve on the ISA board, I was told that a big reward for service would come in the people I would meet and serve alongside, that some of those people would become lifelong friends and mentors. Dean Coleman was that to me. Dean always served with his fellow farmers in mind. He never forgot who he was representing and the responsibilities that went with that. He will be greatly missed by those who respected his insights as well as those of us who called him a friend.” — Tom Oswald, Cleghorn

 "I had the good fortune to serve with Dean for nearly two decades on the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board, Iowa Soybean Association and American Soybean Association. His tireless and unselfish dedication and time spent on these boards was an inspiration to all who served with him. Dean was informed and knowledgeable on all issues concerning the soybean industry. He was well known in the Iowa political arena as a source of information on Iowa agriculture. Dean's warm and friendly smile made him a friend to all he met. He and Carol have been true ambassadors of the agricultural and soybean industry. Dean will be greatly missed."  Brian Kemp, Sibley 

 "A good friend, gone too early. The world is 'not' a better place today as we lost a tremendous individual. Dean Coleman has always been a dear friend and mentor to me ever since I came on the Iowa soybean board several years ago. His leadership in ISA, ASA and the soybean industry was impeccable. Dean loved to serve and was putting his name in the hat to run for ASA Governing Committee in December. I will miss those calls every spring and fall with the familiar question, 'Well how are things going up north?' He was always one to reach out to see how everyone was doing during planting and harvest. Our hearts go out to Carol and family. When the soybean industry got Dean, they also got Carol, and today the whole soy family sheds a big tear." — Wayne and Ruth Fredericks, Osage

"Throughout our lives, we get to meet a handful of people who have a strong impact on us as people. For me, Dean Coleman was one of those people. He was always there with a compliment or thoughtful advice, and for that I am forever grateful. The advice Dean gave me and the example he set for us all made me a better person and a better leader. I think under the word "leader" in the dictionary there should be a picture of Dean Coleman. At a time like this when we have lost a dear friend, I have to reflect and be thankful that I got to know Dean — I'm glad that I have these memories than to never have met him at all. My thoughts and prayers go out to Carol and the family at this time of sadness and loss. Rest well in heaven, my friend." — Lindsay Greiner, Keota, Iowa Soybean Association President     

"During my many years here at the Iowa Soybean Association, I have worked for and alongside outstanding farmer leaders – farmers who care about their families, their farms and their communities. Farmers who volunteer countless hours and days to represent their fellow farmers in meetings and events in Iowa, across the country and around the world. Dean Coleman was one of those outstanding farmer-leaders and a person who I was privileged to know and honored to call a friend. In 2012, during Dean’s year as President of ISA, I spent many days working with him on the issues of the day. More importantly, I witnessed how he approached every day and every challenge with a calmness grounded in his faith and his faith in people. Dean was a great person, husband, father and grandfather and an outstanding farmer leader who made everyone around him a better person. My heart aches for Carol and the entire Coleman family. I pray God surrounds them with love and encouragement as they deal with this tragic loss - a loss felt by all of us in the soybean family." — Kirk Leeds, Iowa Soybean Association CEO

"With a broken heart and with all the memories of Dean that flash through my mind, the first one is always this: my first soybean trade mission. I was Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Dean was on the mission as ISA president-elect. We sat across from each other on that very long flight to Beijing. We laughed a lot on that flight and I learned about a man who cared deeply for his family, farm and community. When I came to work at ISA, one of the first places I visited was Dean’s farm. I joined Carol and Dean for lunch — it was like visiting family. I remember so vividly when I heard Dean's distinctive laugh many times. My first national meeting was a United Soybean Board (USB) meeting. I sat next to Dean back in the “cheap seats” and Dean was like a play-by-play announcer at a football game. He gave me names, history and the background of why things were controversial (or not). It was the best orientation and introduction to the soy family anyone could've asked for. Dean was passionate about sharing what he knew and learning from others. A dedicated advocate for all things agriculture and a great spokesman. Someone who I learned from and respected greatly. He was my friend and this will leave a big hole in the soy family and to me personally. Rest in peace, my dear friend." — Karey Claghorn, Iowa Soybean Association COO

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