Theodore Marlowe Crosbie

July 23, 2016

Service Details

On Saturday, July 23, 2016, after a sudden illness, Theodore Marlowe Crosbie passed away at the University of Kansas Medical Center at Kansas City, surrounded by family and friends. He was 65 years of age and was taken too soon from a life well lived. He was born on January 17, 1951, and grew up on Century Family Farm in a corner of Northwest Iowa between Paullina and Primghar. He was raised in a home without a great deal of material wealth, but with a great deal of love and guidance. His mother and father, Mildred and Owen, raised a farm family and the responsibility of growing food for the world was something Ted learned at an early age and carried throughout his life.

He graduated from Paullina High School in 1969 and went to Iowa State University where he received a BS in Agricultural Education in 1973. He received a Master’s Degree in 1976 and a PhD in 1978, both in Plant Breeding and Cytogenetics. After graduation, he served on the faculty at ISU and stayed active with Iowa State for the rest of his life and career. He was a past recipient of the Floyd Andrew Award and was named an Iowa State Distinguished Alumni in 2015. Iowa State sports were a point of pride (and occasional pain) for him and his closest friends and family.

His career was spent almost entirely in the study and pursuit of agriculture. That strong passion for ag quickly transitioned Ted from student to mentor for countless individuals who crossed his professional path and who credit him with helping them in their own career advancement. His first job in the private sector was at Pfizer and he quickly moved to Garst Seed Company as Director of Research and later ICI Seeds where he served as CEO. He found passion in both management of companies and leadership within them.

His greatest source of professional pride was his work at Monsanto, which began in 1996. He served as Vice President of Global Plant Breeding and led the company’s global plant breeding team for 16 years. Monsanto estimates that the hybrids and varieties developed account for 40 percent of global row crop production from farmer-purchased seed. Ted later served as Integrated Farming Systems Lead at Monsanto. He was recognized as a Monsanto Distinguished Fellow of Science.

Ted’s greatest passion was growing food for people who didn’t have enough; nowhere else in the world was he better able to pursue this effort. He considered Norman Borlaug a friend and mentor and was a devoted supporter of the World Food Prize. He was proud to play a lead role in establishing the Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program that has supported 89 scholars from 30 countries.

He retired from Monsanto in 2014 but his professional activities continued uninterrupted. He served on several Boards including Renewable Energy Group, Titan Machinery, Kaiima Bio-Agritech Ltd., Inocucor Technologies, Blue River Technologies, MAKO Enterprises, Kemin Industries and the Nelson Family Trust.

His commitment to the State of Iowa was a theme throughout his life. He was named Iowa’s Chief Technology Officer in 2005 by Governor Tom Vilsack, an appointment that was renewed by Governors Chet Culver and Terry Branstad. He co-founded the Biosciences Alliance of Iowa (BAI) and chaired the organization from 2004-2010. He served on the Iowa Innovation Council and other state boards. He was recognized in 2013 by Governor Branstad with a lifetime achievement award from Iowa Innovation Corporation for his efforts to support innovation and job creation.

His personal life was a greater source of pride than his professional one. He had many hobbies and pursuits which included fox hunting, boating, golf, fly fishing, hunting, woodworking, skiing and was an avid runner who had competed in several marathons and had been a regular participant in Dam-to-Dam. He loved the State of Iowa, but also loved other places; Lake of the Ozarks, Wyoming, and especially Maui where he and his wife, Ro, spent a great deal of time and shared some of his happiest memories. His greatest hobby was his time spent with his friends at the North Hills Foxhunting club. Some of his most rewarding time in the past few years was spent with his son Jonathan and their shared interest in woodworking. He was enormously proud of Jon’s decision to become a physician and admired the dedication and commitment it took to pursue this goal.

He lived on 289-acre farm near Earlham, Iowa, with Rowena, horses, dogs and cats. He enjoyed managing about 1,000 total acres of Iowa farmland.

He was closest to his wife above all other people in the world. They loved each other so much and got married twice (a civil marriage in November of 1992, and a church service and big party in June of 1993). It was assumed they married twice so as to celebrate two anniversaries a year. Ro and Ted were each other’s best friends, business consultants, traveling partners, teammates, and soul mates.

He is survived by his wife, Rowena; son, Jon (Kelley); granddaughter, Madeleine; his mother, Mildred; sisters, Teresa Crosby (Eric Russ), Christine Livezey, Nancy Moton (Alfred); brother, Mark Arabajief (Deb); and numerous nieces and nephews; as well as the mother of his son, Jon, Karol Crosbie. He was preceded in death by his father Owen and his brother, Calvin.

A memorial visitation will be held at Hamilton’s on Westown Parkway in West Des Moines on Thursday, July 28 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Celebration of Life Service will be held at the World Food Prize Building in downtown Des Moines on Friday, July 29 at 10:00 a.m.

The family wishes to thank the doctors and staff at the University of Kansas Medical Center for their efforts and compassion. Thanks are also extended to the World Food Prize for making their beautiful facility available to celebrate Ted’s life. In keeping with Ted’s life’s work, in lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the World Food Prize Foundation in Ted’s honor.