Phillip Geertson

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Phillip Walter Geertson
March 28, 1939 - November 24, 2014
Phillip Walter Geertson was born March 28, 1939 to Rolf and Bess Geertson in Klamath Falls, OR. When he was five, he and his family moved from Malin, OR to a homestead a few miles west of Homedale, ID. He grew up working on the family farm, hunting and fishing with his father, mother and older brother.
Phillip graduated from Homedale High School in 1956. He went on to attended Boise Junior College (Boise State University) where he majored in Civil Engineering. During his time at BJC he met Marilyn Campbell; they married a short time later. Phillip transferred to the University of Colorado, Boulder where he received his engineering degree. He then worked as a Structural Engineer for transportation departments in Colorado, Washington and Idaho designing bridges. The most notable is the Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River at Astoria.
He also started his own business manufacturing and selling bee boards using drilling machines he invented. He sold this business, and in 1972, Phillip and Marilyn and their five children moved to the farm they purchased near Adrian, Oregon; it was located a few miles from the farm that he was raised on. In addition to farming and leveling land, he continued working in the bee business by inventing and patenting machines to re-drill bee boards. Over the course of the next 30 years he added to the farm. He specialized in growing alfalfa seed and developed his own seed varieties. This eventually developed into a vertically integrated seed company where his varieties of seed were grown, cleaned and bagged on the farm, and then sold and delivered to farmers nationwide and as far away as New Zealand. He spent many winters traveling across the country building his company. Phillip especially enjoyed meeting farmers across the country and developed long lasting friendships with many. He was a long-time member of the Farm Bureau and the Idaho-Oregon Seed Growers Association.
In 2005 he joined with The Center For Food Safety in a lawsuit against Monsanto for damages to Geertson Seed Farms due to Roundup Ready alfalfa. This lawsuit was heard by the United States Supreme Court and was the first ruling on genetically engineered crops. Phillip donated his name to the cause but received no part of the settlement with Monsanto. He continued his fight against GMO's for the rest of his life appearing at many events around the world as the key note speaker and guest of honor.
Phillip was always fascinated with mining, especially gold. While running the farm, seed business and raising a family, he prospected and mined in Nevada and Alaska. His last projects were a gold mining venture in Alaska and a continuation of the gold claim on Star Creek in Nevada.
During the last few years of his life, he found companionship with Judith Mixon. They enjoyed traveling and working their blueberry farm in Sherwood, OR. When Phillip got sick, she stayed by his side and cared for him until the end.
Phillip is survived by his brother, Ron Geertson; his five children, JoAnn Behrends, Janet Rangel, Steve Geertson, Leslie Mon Belle and Carol Chadwick; sixteen grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, a brother who died in infancy, his wife, Marilyn, and his son-in-law, Douglas Behrends. His family was the most important thing to him and he will be missed. One of his greatest sources of pride were his children.
On November 24, 2014 he lost his long and courageous battle with cancer in a Portland, OR area hospital. He was stubborn to the end, choosing to pass on his own terms.
Phillip did not want a funeral service so a memorial gathering will be held in Greenleaf, ID at the Community Center on Saturday, December 27, 2014, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Please come by anytime and share your memories of Phillip to celebrate his life with family and friends. It is optional to bring an item to share for lunch.

Published in Idaho Press Tribune on Dec. 24, 2014