Jim and Kaye Freudenberger (right) visit with Oklahoma State Rep. Charles O. Morgan (left) during a 1979 Logan County legislative visit to Oklahoma City. Also pictured are Bill and Ruth Kinney.
tire-changing station for a local shop so Safemark tires could be installed on farm equipment. Hadwiger cherishes every relationship he’s made through Farm Bureau, whether it came from visiting with neighbors during local membership drives or during national trips in his time on the OKFB state board. “I’ve had so many friends in Farm Bureau,” Hadwiger said. “I’ve known and been friends with every one of the (OKFB) presidents, and they’ve all been gentlemen.” After Melvin and Helen Keller’s time in Tulsa County’s JFB program, Helen dedicated 21 years of her effort to the OKFB State Women’s Committee, a program she loved that was filled with people she came to know well. “I am just so grateful to have known the people that I’ve known, especially the committees I was on,” Helen Keller said. “We formed a bond that has not been broken. We meet every year for our reunion, and it’s wonderful.” Even as a dairy farmer with cows to milk daily, Melvin served as a Tulsa County board member from the 1950s until 2017, serving in every position on the board except secretary. He even spent some time selling Farm Bureau insurance as an agent in the county. From the early years of traveling to nearby counties to set up JFB committees for fellow young agriculturalists through the awards they received and the committees they served on into recent times where they worked tirelessly behind the scenes for Farm Bureau, the Kellers have loved every minute of their involvement. “We have wonderful memories,” Helen Keller said. “It just brings tears to your eyes, the things we did.”
Time well spent
Hadwiger grew up hearing stories about the early days of OKFB and the dedication it took to get the organization built from the ground up. “I was told by Lewis Munn about the days when they started Farm Bureau,” Hadwiger said. “They’d get on a bus and go to some town and see who had stamps for gasoline because it was during the war.
Both Jim Hadwiger and Jim Freudenberger served on the 1994 Oklahoma Farm Bureau Board. Hadwiger is seated on the right, and Freudenberger is seated next to him.
They’d haul them around the county to get new members to get started, then they’d get on the bus and go to the next county and do the same thing. “So you think about all they did to get this started. We need to keep it going.” After years of dedication, each of these Farm Bureau members is proud of their time in the organization, but more so, they are proud of the organization they helped build. “Farm Bureau has been a strong leader on many issues, and we try to put out a good front,” Freudenberger said. “I feel very fortunate that we got in on the ground floor, helped it grow, watched it grow, and benefited from a lot of things that happened because of Farm Bureau,” Melvin Keller said. “I’ve enjoyed going to the meetings and seeing all the people,” Helen Keller said. “We did go to (this year’s) area meeting, and it was just like going home.” Through all the meetings, events and activities, Hadwiger points to a shared vision and a shared faith as a reason for OKFB’s success through the years. “The best part, I think, doesn’t have anything to do with the farming,” Hadwiger said. “Practically all of the people are Christians. A farmer has to have a little religion to stay at it. “A lot of the people I’ve met have been real good Christians. And I think that’s one of the important things.” And as he thinks about the past 75 years of OKFB and the decades to come, Freudenberger recalls a request from a past OKFB president during a meeting as Farm Bureau members looked toward the future. “I always remember Mr. Lockett, when he was president,” Freudenberger said. “We had a meeting one time, and he told us to dream; he said to dream about what you thought Farm Bureau would do.” And it is the dreams of Farm Bureau members from across the state who have served through the decades that have guided OKFB through the past and will guide the organization into the future. Fall 2017 — 25