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Rex Gilbert Adams
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Obituary for Rex Gilbert Adams

Rex Gilbert Adams was born on April 8, 1929 on a farm to Harry R. Adams and Beulah G. Adams, near Kirkman, Iowa. Rex was the youngest of 5 children.

Rex attended school at Kirkman Consolidated Schools and graduated in 1946. He drove the school bus at the age of 14 while a sophomore in high school with special permission from the Shelby County Sheriff. This was during the wartime when there was an extreme shortage of drivers. Rex drove a school bus for 17 years, the last years at Irwin after Kirkman merged with the Irwin Consolidated School.

During high school, Rex worked after school, nights and weekends at the Kirkman garage operated by Norris Dickinson, and became a proficient mechanic.

In high school, Rex purchased a used Massey Harris tractor and 3 bottom plow, and he did custom plowing in season. Rex rented 80 acres of land from his father and began farming while still in school.

On October 1, 1949 Rex was united in marriage to Betty Jean Johannsen of Denison after meeting at the Denison roller rink. Two sons were born into this marriage, Rex Alan (Cindy) and Jay Brian (Roxi) Adams.

In 1954 Rex and Betty began raising turkeys on their farm, starting with 5,000 birds the first year and gradually increasing production to 120,000 per year by 1977. They also farmed 1200 acres of land owned and rented. The turkeys took a lot of feed, one bushel of corn to raise a Tom Turkey.

Then the farm crisis came along, where turkey prices fell and interest rates to borrow money rose as high as 21%, and CD rates went up to 16%. Rex and Betty shut down the operation and had an auction selling some of the land and farm equipment.

From 1984 to1989 Rex worked overseas as a poultry and feed consultant. Rex had 27 projects in 18 countries, 5 of which were in Africa. Most projects were for the U.S. Peace Corp Volunteers to improve village chicken production. The poorest county was Mali, West Africa with a per capita income of $180 per year. Some projects were for the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

In 1989 Rex and Betty got the opportunity to raise broiler chickens for the Campbell Soup Company on contract, making the feed with their feed mill. This was a profitable enterprise. At the same time Rex and Betty leased four vacant hog finishers and started finishing 5,000 pigs per year. After 5 years Campbell’s made the decision they no longer needed the 26 broiler growers anymore, so the 26 broiler growers bought the chicken processing plant in Tecumseh, Nebraska and founded the Smart Chicken Company. The chicken is air chilled, rather than water chilled which make them much healthier.

Currently Smart Chicken is marketed in over 4,000 stores nationwide. Rex raised 300,000 broilers per year getting 50,000 baby chicks 6 times a year. In 2000, at the age of 71 Rex retired from the poultry growing project.

In the early 1950’s Rex and other young farmers after watching a neighbor’s house burn to the ground and organized the Kirkman Rural Volunteer Fire Department. After several fundraisers the group purchased their first fire truck. There were 24 members, with Rex serving as the president for most of his 17 years as a fireman.

Rex served on the Iowa Turkey Federation board of directors for many years and later on the Iowa Poultry Association board as a broiler grower.

In 1961 Rex was elected into the Farmers’ Mutual Cooperative Telephone Company Board of Directors representing the Kirkman exchange.

Rex served as the chairman of the Kirkman centennial board in 1992 raising money for the new Kirkman Community Building. He was also a co-founder and lifetime member of the Western Iowa Pioneer Cemetery Association which restores pioneer cemeteries in Shelby and Harrison Counties.


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Upcoming Events

Memorial Service

Saturday

10

Mar

11:00 AM
Kirkman United Methodist Church

109 Washington Street
Kirkman, Iowa 51447

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