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Borlaug memories

By Staff | Mar 6, 2014

Artist Benjamin Victor is shown with the clay model of his Dr. Norman Borlaug statue during his artist residency at the State Historical Museum in March 2013. Top photo: Dr. Norman Borlaug is pictured in a wheat field in Mexico in 1970. The photo is courtesy of the World Food Prize.

An Iowa man who dedicated his life to fighting world hunger will be honored in Washington, D.C., with a statue at the U.S. Capitol Building.

His niece, Judy Reed, of Lehigh, said she and her family couldn’t be happier.

The statue of the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, originally of Cresco, will be installed on March 25. In addition to being what would have been Borlaug’s 100th birthday, it is also National Agriculture Day.

“We were thrilled,” Reed said. “He doesn’t have a lot of family left in this area, but we feel he deserves the honor, and Iowa should be very proud of him.”

In addition to being the founder of the World Food Prize Foundation, Borlaug also received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Through it all, Reed said her uncle remained humble.

“He was very driven, and truly believed in what he was doing,” she said. “Until I was older, I didn’t realize the wonderful things he was doing.”

In fact, she said if her uncle was still alive he would call the fact he was being honored with a statue “ridiculous.”

“He would say this doesn’t need to be done,” Reed said. “All he cared about was feeding people and developing food in countries that didn’t have enough food.”

One of Reed’s favorite memories of her uncle involves traveling overseas with him.

“We went to Barcelona, Spain, with him to an international Rotary convention,” Reed said. “He received a very, very high Rotary award, and it was very fun to spend time in Spain with him. It was also great to see him receive this high Rotary honor.”

In 2011, Gov. Terry Branstad appointed the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Statue Committee to raise funds and commission an artist to design, create and install the statue in the U.S. Capitol Building.

Branstad had high praise for the statue honoring Borlaug.

“The unveiling will be a historic event and celebration of Dr. Borlaug’s legacy,” Branstad said in a press release. “His agricultural innovations saved an estimated billion people around the world from hunger and starvation.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey agreed.

Judy Reed, of Lehigh, is Norman Borlaug's niece. She said the family is thrilled with the news of the statue.

“The global impact that Dr. Borlaug had is an example and a challenge to all of us as we look to the future and Iowa’s role in feeding and fueling a growing world,” Northey said in the same press release. “The installation of this statue will be a great opportunity to celebrate Dr. Borlaug and help inspire others, especially our youth that he was so passionate about, through his amazing story.”

Though she personally will not be at the installation, Reed said several family members will attend.

“My uncle’s whole family, including his daughter and son, will be going,” she said. “They all live in Dallas.”

Reed did say that she has already seen the statue and said it is a wonderful representation of her uncle.

“It looks just like him,” she said. “You could walk right up to him and know that it was Uncle Norm.”

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