John Hatfield, 85, of rural Creston, died Thursday, July 21, 2011, at Greater Regional Hospice Home, Creston, Iowa. Celebration of Life Services will be 11:00 A.M., Friday, July 29, at the family farm located at 2695 330th St., Creston, with Military Honors by Theodore J. Martens VFW Post #1797. Rev. Tom Woodin will officiate. Interment will be 3:00 P.M., Saturday, July 30, at the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Neligh, Nebraska. No visitation is planned. Pearson-Coen-Beaty Family Funeral Service, 809 W. Montgomery St., Creston, is in charge of the arrangements. Memorial contributions may be directed to the charity of your choice. On-line condolences may be left at www.pearsonfuneralhomes.com.
John David Hatfield was born September 22, 1925 in Neligh, Nebraska, to Jay D. and Mathilda Volkman Hatfield. John graduated from Neligh High School in 1943.
In 1943, John worked at a Mustang Bomber Plant in Los Angeles before enlisting in the Navy. He was a Radar Operator on the Minesweeper USS YMS 380. Their mission was finding and destroying German mines in the English Channel. On D-Day, his Minesweeper took the lead. On the shores of Normandy near Cherbourg, France they destroyed mines helping the invasion effort. He was a radar man on the USS Destroyer Amick in the South Pacific and witnessed the surrender of the Japanese that was held on the Palau Islands in 1945.
After the war John attended the State Agricultural and Business College at the University of Nebraska. He married Marion Verneil McNaught on December 23, 1949. They had two daughtersAnn Louise, born in 1950, and, Jane Elizabeth, born in 1952. Marian taught high school in the Orient Macksburg school system.
John and Marian farmed in both Adair and Union County, Iowa and in Nebraska. The home farm is located seven miles north of Creston, Iowa. They farmed north of Neligh, Nebraska which was homesteaded in the 1870s by Johns grandfather.
John sold fertilizer for Farm Fertilizer, Omaha, Nebraska. In 1965, John founded Green Valley Chemical Corporation located three miles north of Creston. He and fellow investors built the anhydrous ammonia plant (which today also manufactures dry ice). John was Secretary of the Board and prime organizer.
In 1968, John built his own phosphate fertilizer plant in Soda Springs, Idaho. The plant was known as Soda Springs Phosphate. His affiliations with companies such as El Paso Products, Monsanto, FMC and Kerr McGee made his company successful. In 1990, Soda Springs phosphate converted to producing an all organic phosphate. His fertilizer shipments extended throughout the mainland US, Canada and Hawaii.
John enjoyed hunting and fishing. In 1991, John and Marian were given the Richard H. Pough Award for excellence in Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Practices on Private Land. John set aside over 200 acres for wildlife, natural habitat and lakes. Many television programs have been filmed on the Hatfield Lakes. Justice Sandra Day OConnor, and other celebrities have fished the lakes on the Hatfield farms. The log cabins on Hatfield Lakes have become a private guest retreat.
John flew airplanes..from the Cessna 140 to a A36 Beechcraft Bonanza. John felt strongly about the future of aviation and supported the Greenfield Aviation Museum. John flew from his runway located on his farm. In March, he flew a 2,000 mile airplane trip to his daughters home in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
John Hatfield was also a world traveler. His trips included England, France (several trips aboard the Concord), and cruising aboard the Queen Elizabeth II ship. He toured China in 1982 with Idaho Governor John Evans. He attended both the 40th and 50th year World War II celebrations in France. He also traveled to the Southwest Pacific and Palau Island in 1995. He traveled to the North Pole on a Russian Icebreaker ship, and saw the reindeer in Siberia. He visited Germany, the South Pole and Russia.
John retraced the areas where his Grandfather, Captain John D. Hatfield fought and been captured (a prisoner in Libby Prison) during the Civil War. He traveled to every State.many times. He flew from the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific, to the North Pole, and throughout the Canadian Provinces. In 1986, he crashed a Bellanca Scout aircraft in Thompson, Manitoba and broke both of his ankles.
During the 1980s, John lived in Peoria, Arizona. John was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Idaho and was a member of A.O.P.A. Aircraft Pilots Association. John contributed to the Neligh Cemetery and the Antelope Historical Museum.
Marian Hatfield passed away in 2010. John is survived by his daughters, Ann Merritt Kellogg and husband Chris Kellogg (Denver) and Jane Anchustegui and husband John Anchustegui (Boise); Grandchildren, Mark Hatfield Merritt (Creston), and, Jason Hatfield Merritt (Zihuatanejo, Mexico) and wife, Yolanda Palmer Merritt; and Cousins, Milt and Grace Blatter (Soda Springs, Idaho and Bemidji Minnesota).