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Longtime Olivia resident a pioneer in the seed industry

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OLIVIA -- A man who played a major role in the growth of the seed industry in Olivia will be remembered when services are held at 1 p.m. Monday at Cross of Calvary Lutheran Church in Olivia.

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Ivan "Jake'' Jacobsen, died at age 86 on July 14 in Eden Prairie.

Jacobsen left a big impact on both the seed industry and the community he loved, more so than most people wo-uld know. Jacobsen of-ten worked behind the scenes and stayed out of the limelight, al-though he was very instrumental in the industry's growth, according to Bob Thurston, of Thurston Genetics.

Thurston started his own career in the seed corn industry with Trojan Seeds, where Jacobsen played a leadership role.

Jacobsen had come to Olivia in 1950 to open a menswear business with a partner, but joined Trojan Seeds in 1953 at the invitation of the company's founders, the Rauenhorst family.

The Rauenhorst family is synonymous with the development and growth of the seed industry in Renville County, but many cite the decision to bring Jacobsen on board as one of the best moves for the company.

Jacobsen and the Rauenhorst family led the company on to unprecedented growth, and firmly established Olivia and Renville County as one of the world's most important seed production areas.

Thurston said Jacobsen is known well within the industry, both for his role with the company as well as leadership roles with the U.S. Feed Grains Council and American Seed Trade Association.

Jacobsen made an equally big mark in the community for the way he treated and helped people, said Thurston.

"A true gentleman,'' he said of Jacobsen.

What struck Thurston most was how Jacobsen, who rose from the role of office manager to president, always treated everyone with equal respect.

Jacobsen also "bled Olivia,'' said Thurston, and devoted himself to benefiting the community he came to love.

Visitation with surviving family will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday at Cross of Calvary Lutheran Church.

Survivors include his children, Nancy Weyerhaeuser of Eden Prairie, Kim (and Judy) of Eden Prairie, and Van (and Lee Afdahl) of Pine Island.

Arrangements are with the Dirks-Blem Funeral Service, Olivia.

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Tom Cherveny
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
(320) 214-4335
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