Kermit Lowell Greenley, age 94, of West Salem, Wis., formerly of Dassel, died Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007, at Mulder Health Care Facility, West Salem.
He was born Nov. 2, 1913, to Olaf and Ida (Halvorson) Greenley at their two-room prairie homestead in Hill County, Mont. Kermit’s father, Olaf, died when Kermit was 4 years old, and Ida Greenley moved her four children to Viking, Minn.
Kermit later attended Crookston Agricultural College and the University of Minnesota, majoring in agronomy.
He married Evelyn Tornell of Viking, Minn. in 1938, and they moved to Prescott, Wis., where Kermit was employed by Jacques Seed Company.
In 1940, Kermit moved his family to Dassel, and became general manager, owner, and president of Pride Hybrid Company, an affiliate of Twin City Seed Company. Through Pride Hybrid Company, he developed and produced several new varieties of hybrid seed corn.
After World War II, Kermit began marketing numerous varieties of seed corn throughout the Upper Midwest. In 1957, he sold the Southern Division of Pride Hybrid to Northrup King and renamed the remaining company Midwest Research Associates, producers of Weathermaster Seeds. Kermit also expanded the Weathermaster Seeds operations into Mexico.
Kermit had the opportunity of becoming friends with Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Frank Lloyd Wright, whose foundation prepared the preliminary drawings for his home in Dassel. While raising his family in Dassel, Kermit and his wife, Evelyn, were also heavily involved in the building of the Covenant Church of Dassel, where he is still a member.
Kermit was an avid pilot. He was very proud of his flying and for his 90th birthday, he flew again.
Kermit’s wife, Evelyn, died in December 1990, and in 1992, he moved his operations from Dassel to West Salem, Wis. He married Constance “Connie” Miller Craig of West Salem in 1992, and continued operations of Weathermaster and American Hybrids out of his West Salem office.
He was a past member of the West Salem Rotary Club and was a member of the West Salem Lions Club and the West Salem Historical Society.
Connie died in December 2003.Kermit continued to operate American Hybrids, concentrating primarily in the Midwest region of the US, until he formally retired in late 2006 at the age of 93.
Of all the commodities Kermit dealt with in his hybrid seed ventures, the most important “commodity” was always his customer. He demonstrated this with his trust and honor of a handshake, as his customers will tell you. Kermit had many friends around the US, but none as close to his heart as his West Salem friends and his Dassel friends, especially Pastor Wally Pratt.
He is survived by his son, Kurtis (Beverly) Greenley of Long Lake; a sister, Gladys Krohn of Williams, Minn.; son-in-law Roger (Katie) Gilmer of Lakeville; Thomas (Nancy) Miller, and Kathy Miller (Jim) Jenks, both of West Salem; David Miller of Onalaska; Steven (Sheri) Craig of West Salem; and Bill (Janet) Craig of Barre Mills.
He is further survived by his grandchildren, Karalynn Greenley (Jeff) Marr of Roseville, Scott (Leah) Greenley of Edina, Jeffrey Gilmer of Maple Plain, Jon (Diane) Gilmer of Bloomington, James (Jan) Gilmer of Jordan, Jennifer Gilmer (Kurt) Mahoney of Bloomington, Damian (Jeanne) Miller, Jason (friend, Stacey) Miller, Cory (Jackie) Miller, and Katie, Jonathon, Scott and Sierra Craig, all of West Salem; 16 great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, and other relatives.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn; his daughter, Ardyce Greenley Gilmer; his second wife, Constance; his twin sister, Doris Wulff; and his brothers, Floyd Greenley and Charles Gustafson.
Funeral services took place Thursday, Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in West Salem with the Revs. J. David Bersagel, Martha J. Hampton, and Wallace H. Pratt officiating. Additional services took place at the Evangelical Covenant Church in Dassel Friday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. with the Revs. Wallace H. Pratt and Keith Carlson officiating. Interment was in the Dassel Cemetery.
Arrangements were by the Jostad-Jandt Funeral Home in West Salem.