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Mark Robert Pearson, 54, of East Peru, Iowa passed away on Sunday, June 3, at his home. Funeral services will be held at the Plymouth Congregational Church on Friday, June 8 at 11 a.m. The visitation will be held at the Hy-Vee Conference Center in West Des Moines on Thursday, June 7, from 4 to 8 p.m. A private family burial will be held.
Pearson was born in Lafayette, Indiana on September 8, 1957 to Robert and June Pearson. He graduated from Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Illinois in 1975 and then continued his education at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, where he graduated in 1979. He majored in journalism and was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
Pearson met his wife, Eden, at the University of Arizona in 1976 and they married in Phoenix in 1978. They moved to Des Moines where he went to work in the farm department at WHO Radio. In 1980, he received the most coveted award in agricultural broadcasting, the DeKalb Oscar. He also worked as the Markets Editor for Successful Farming magazine and as Iowa's Assistant Secretary of Agriculture. In 1985, Pearson was named Director of Agricultural Programming for Minnesota Public Radio's commercial farm network, a group of fifty stations in Minnesota and Iowa carrying farm markets and news.
In 1986, Pearson entered the United States Naval Reserves as a Military Intelligence Officer. He eventually attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
In 1988, he returned to Iowa where he was employed by Southwestern Community College in Creston as the Director of Agricultural Planning and Development. This program was dedicated to creating income opportunities for southwest Iowa farmers. In addition to his work at SWCC, Pearson enjoyed raising hogs at his farm in Thayer.
Beginning in 1991, Pearson took the reins of Iowa Public Television's Market to Market program. He also hosted periodic specials on economic development, rural development, and farm policy for IPTV, as well as the station's annual coverage of the Iowa State Fair. In June of 1993, Pearson opened an Edwards Jones office in Winterset, Iowa. Soon after, he returned to WHO Radio as the host of the daily noon farm program, the Big Show, which he broadcast from the basement of his Jones office.
Pearson and his family moved to a farm in East Peru, Iowa in 1995, where he built a diversified grain and livestock operation. Throughout the years, he has been a popular speaker at thousands of farm, business, and financial meetings across the country. Pearson had an uncommon ability to bridge the gap between rural and urban Americans. With his radio show, television show, brokerage office, and speaking career, Pearson was truly a Renaissance man.
He served the Winterset community as: chairman of the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival, creator of the Winterset Parks and Recreation swim team, Little League and soccer coach, member of American Legion Green Rogers Post 184, Lions, Rotary, Madison County Cattlemen, Madison County Pork Producers, and confirmation guide at the Winterset Presbyterian Church and Plymouth Congregational Church.
However, above all else, Pearson was a son, a husband, and a father, in addition to the radio and television personality beloved by Iowans. His family was the most important thing in his life and they were foremost in his heart. He cherished the accomplishments of his wife and children.
Survivors include his wife Eden, his son Mike and daughter-in-law Heidi (Ramaeker), his daughters Katie, Betsy, and Ellie; his father Robert Pearson of Champaign, Illinois; father-in-law Tom Fridena of Scottsdale, Arizona; his sisters Kay (Dave) Haughey and Sarah (David) Garcia, and two nieces and two nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother, June Pearson, and his mother-in-law, Pat Fridena.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Heifer International P.O. Box 8058, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-8058.
Published in Des Moines Register from June 6 to June 7, 2012