April 4, 1935 - March 7, 2023
Funeral services for E. Thurman Gaskill will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 18, 2023, at the United Methodist Church in Corwith. Burial will be in the Corwith Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 3-6 p.m. on Friday, March 17, 2023, at the Corwith Community Center. Memorials will be directed to the Iowa State University Foundation and the School of Agriculture.
E. Thurman Gaskill was born April 4, 1935, in Algona, the son of George and Mildred (Chapman) Gaskill. He grew up on the family farm near Corwith where he attended school, was active in 4-H and loved playing baseball. Thurman graduated from Corwith Consolidated High School in 1953, and attended Iowa State University, where he met his future wife. He was stationed in Germany while serving in the United States Army from 1954-1956 and upon his honorable discharge, returned to Corwith to farm with his parents. On June 8, 1958, Thurman was united in marriage to Geraldine Adkins in Grinnell. Thurman and Gerry were the fourth generation to raise their family on the farm.
Agriculture was a very important part of Thurman’s life and he was always up for an adventure. In the late 1960s, Governor Robert Ray appointed Thurman to the Iowa Development Commission where he served as vice chair of the Ag Promotion Board. In 1969, he was selected to travel to Australia on a cultural exchange program sponsored by Rotary International. This experience led to involvement in many noteworthy organizations that allowed him to showcase agriculture and the State of Iowa.
In the early 1970’s he was involved with the Agriculture Council of America and traveled throughout the U.S. to speak on the importance of food production. When he was appointed to the National Corn Growers Association board, he focused on revamping and increasing membership in the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Thurman also served as President of the National Corn Growers Association and later as Chairman of the U.S. Feed Grains Council where he addressed World Food Conferences in Peru and Japan. He was inducted into the Iowa State University Ag Hall of Fame in 1975, and was instrumental in creating the Iowa Corn Checkoff program in 1977, which supports market development, education and research. As the first Chairman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, he directed checkoff funds to explore the commercial viability of adding corn alcohol to gasoline. Thurman pumped one of the first gallons of gasohol in June of 1978, and ethanol production in Iowa began soon thereafter. Trademarking the “Iowa Chop” was also a proud moment for him. Thurman would be the first to say that none of this would have been possible without his “Gang of 7” –Tom Dorr, Keith Hora, Karol King, Varel Bailey, Dan Stadtmueller and Keith Heffernan.
Thurman continued to influence agriculture and farming policy in Iowa as a Board Member of the Department of Natural Resources beginning in 1989, as well as nationally when he served as agricultural advisor to the George H. W. Bush presidential campaigns. He served as a Director of Meta Financial Group, Inc. from 1982 – 2014. Additionally, he served as an Iowa State Senator from 1998-2008, during which time he was assistant majority leader for six years. As a Senator, he was very proud of organizing grass roots support and securing funding to dredge Clear Lake, thereby improving water quality and insuring the area’s future as a recreational destination. In 2009, he received the Iowa Master Farmer Award which honors those who are devoted to building stronger communities and better agriculture. Throughout his many “adventures”, he operated the farm with his family and the assistance of many others, most notably Craig Steenhard beginning in 1972.
If asked, he would claim his family as his proudest achievement. He made time to attend his kids’ sporting events, take family vacations or just sit and talk at the kitchen table. He especially loved family time on the farm, where he would impart old and new lessons to his children and grandchildren who returned to help. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather who enjoyed classic cars, recreational piloting and cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones. Thurman served on the Hancock County Board of Education and was a lifelong member of the Corwith United Methodist Church.
Thurman died at the age of 87 on Tuesday, March 7 surrounded by family at the Kossuth Regional Health Center in Algona.
He is survived by his loving and steadfast wife of 64 years, Gerry of Corwith; children, Beth (David) Douglass of Bellevue, Wash.; Mark (Sandra) Gaskill of St. Louis, Mo.; David (Becky) Gaskill of Spirit Lake; grandchildren, Zack and Ben Douglass; Peyton and Jonah Gaskill; Mikaela, Preston and Maci Gaskill; sister, Georgia Crockett of Minneapolis, Minn., brother-in-law, Gordon (Sandee) Adkins of Apalachicola, Fla.; nieces and nephews, Andrea (Tim) Sticha, Allison (Mark) Schmitz, Jason (Cristina) Adkins, Misty Reed, Mike (Jennifer) Adkins, Erika (Beau) Pender, Jessica Grace (David) Gunter and their families.
He was preceded in death by his parents; infant son, James Scott, brother-in-law, Paul Crockett and parents-in-law Kenneth and Ruth (Hotka) Adkins.
Arrangements are being handled by Oakcrest Funeral Services. Condolences may be left at www.oakcrestfuneralservices.com.