William K. Deal Biography
— Contributed by the Deal family
William K. Deal, was born September 6, 1936 in Des Moines, Iowa to Robert Deal II and Vera Burns Deal.
Raised on a farm near Bagley, Iowa. Attended Bagley High School, graduating in 1954. Enrolled in Iowa State University, College of Agriculture, Farm Operations. Involved in Farm Op Club, Men’s Residence Association – serving as head resident for a while, graduating in Ag Education in 1958.
Following graduation, taught ag education in Correctionville, Iowa for one year. Married Patricia Heiland on June 21, 1959. Then joined the U.S. Navy as an officer, serving for three years out of Norfolk, Va. Served on board L.S.T. DeSota for a year-and-a half, ending his tour of duty in 1962.
Bill and Pat’s first child, Tamara Sue Deal was born on July 17, 1961, in Norfolk, Va. In October 1962, Robert Deal II died suddenly of a stroke while visiting Bill and Pat in Virginia. Bill was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy at that time and returned home to harvest the crops. The following year, on July 24, 1963, Bill and Pat’s second daughter, Cynthia Joanne Deal, was born.
Bill had purchased a farmhouse and cropland while in the navy. He also farmed family-owned farmland for many years after returning to Iowa. Bill expanded the farm operation to include both hogs and cattle. A small cow herd was maintained through the year with occasional ventures into feeder cows when a bad year for crops swept Iowa.
Pork production became the center of the family business when Bill built Fair Deal Hog Farm in 1974. Located between Bayard and Bagley, this 500-sow operation was a state-of-the-art facility, carefully managing disease prevention and monitoring and tracking individual sow production. One of the original users of PigChamp software that was developed at the University of Minnesota to help farmers better understand and manage hog operations. The facility expanded to include a grain mill and finishing facilities.
Ever a lover of technology, Bill purchased his first computer in 1975. After admiring it on the tabletop and dusting it regularly, Pat determined after two months that it was up to her to learn to use the machine. She locked herself in the den with a user’s manual and multiple cups of coffee. Emerging weeks later, she became the family’s primary bookkeeper and computer tech. Bill remains enamored of technology to this day.
A member of the Guthrie Co. Pork Producers for over 40 years, Bill served on the Pork Board and was county president for several years. In 1986, Bill was named a Master Pork Producer by the State Pork Producers.
Active locally, Bill was a member of Lions Club (past president) and Masons. He also served on the Yale-Jamaica-Bagley School Board for six years, president of the board for the last two. Especially memorable was the school board convention that Bill attended with school administrators and other board members. Prior to the meeting, each participant was asked what they were looking forward to and Bill talked about how he was interested in learning about computers in education. “Computers in the classroom? Unheard of!” However, upon arrival at the convention, it was discovered that the keynote speech was on exactly that subject. In the years that followed, YJB administrators did an outstanding job of finding ways to bring technology into the classroom.
While farming full-time (plus a few extra hours as all farmers do), Bill also found time, beginning way back in his teaching days, to invest in the stock market. His investment philosophy of finding interesting companies and investing directly in the stock of that company paid off many times over the years.
As the ‘80s drew to a close, Bill and Pat decided to begin moving toward retirement. Fair Deal Hog Farm was sold to neighbors, and the livestock operation dismantled.
Bill and Pat entered the next phase of their lives by building a new home, complete with indoor pool and tennis court, at nearby Lake Panorama. They moved in January 1990, selling the farmstead to longtime employee and friend, Darwin Grow. Bill and Pat enjoyed learning tennis together. Pat took up golf and learned to swim. The couple enjoyed winters in Arizona for several years. Grandchildren Benjamin and Megan Atkins, born to daughter Cyndi and husband Mike Atkins, joined the family in 1996 and 1997. Both daughters had graduated from Iowa State University.
In 1998, Pat Deal died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. In her memory, Bill provided leadership toward the fundraising and construction of a new, much-needed library facility in Panora. Bill’s other philanthropic interests included the Salvation Army, Panora Public Library and Panora Fire Department. He established the W.K. Deal Endowed Leadership Lecture at Iowa State University and provided endowed scholarship funds for students at Panorama High School and Iowa State University. Bill also endowed research funds at Mayo Clinic for pancreatic cancer research and Lewy Body Disease research.
Bill married Judy Blackburn of Des Moines on August 20, 2000. He continued to farm the land until 2001 when he decided to sell his equipment and become a landlord farmer. They continued to live at Lake Panorama, spending winters in Arizona or The Villages in Florida where Bill passed away on November 24, 2016.
Throughout his life Bill was involved in church activities. He grew up in Greenbriar Methodist Church. Upon his return to Iowa after the service, he and Pat joined Bagley Methodist Church. After moving to Panora, they were faithful attenders of Panora Church of the Brethern. Later, he and Judy joined Faith Bible Church.