• Duane Dailey.
    Duane Dailey.

Several years before his death on March 10, 2020, Duane Dailey drafted his own obituary. We present it here with only minor updates.

Fred “Duane” Dailey, 84, will meet his final deadline as a longtime agricultural journalist. He was a University of Missouri Extension educator who had taught through the news media.

He was an MU professor emeritus who flunked retirement and kept writing. His stories appeared in the newspapers of Missouri, weeklies and dailies, and many farm magazines.

He was born Nov. 23, 1935, at home in South Lineville, Mo., to Marie Shroyer Dailey Hass and Howard Karl Dailey. She was from Mercer, Mo., and he was from Lineville, Iowa.

Later they moved from South Lineville to a farm in Somerset Township in northeastern Mercer County. The farm was located between Mercer and Powersville, Mo., near the now-defunct town of Cleopatra.

Duane attended eight grades in the Laughlin School, and then attended Lineville High School for two years, graduating after two years at Mercer High School.

He enrolled in agricultural journalism, part of the MU College of Agriculture and the MU School of Journalism.

He graduated from MU in 1959 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army from the MU ROTC program. He became an artillery officer at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, during officers basic training. He was then assigned to be a public information officer at Richards-Gebaur AFB, Grandview, Mo. He was PIO for two years for the North American Army Air Defense Command (missile artillery defending the heartland with Nike missiles). The School of Journalism connection secured the job.

At the end of his tour, he was offered a job back at MU by his adviser Richard Lee, head of Agricultural and Extension Information. He covered 4-H news the first years before taking on reporting on the MU Extension Balanced Farming program.

While working, he earned a master’s of science in extension education with a minor in journalism.

Through his career he reported on extension programs in the College of Agriculture.

Dailey played a major role in reporting on winners of the Farm Management Award, telling “success stories” though the press.

When that program ended, he became general assignment reporter.

At the same time, he took up teaching undergraduates about photojournalism and writing.

He did major reporting in support of the research from the MU Forage Systems Research Center. This brought management-intensive grazing and control of fescue to the state under researcher Jim Gerrish, MU grazing guru.

In recent years, he has taken on reporting on how to eradicate toxic K-31 fescue, a pasture grass he promoted in the early 1960s. He reports on the efforts of Craig Roberts, MU forage specialist.

More than three decades ago, he took up major reporting on economic outlooks from the MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute under Abner Womack. His reporting gained national usage as FAPRI researchers made their trips to Washington to present economic reports.

More than 20 years ago, Dailey added beef reproduction to his beat, with the arrival of David Patterson from the University of Kentucky. Patterson brought the concept of fixed-time artificial insemination and creation of the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program.

Dailey retired 27 years ago. But never missed a beat in reporting when hired back “half-time.” He found there are no half-time jobs, only half-pay jobs.

His major beats have been forages, beef cattle and economics. All go together. Cows eat grass and make money for 38,000 Missouri farmers.

From the FAPRI economic reports, he was recognized by the National Association of Agriculture Journalists, now North American Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ). He is the only reporter from a land-grant university to be selected as an honorary member. He published the group’s newsletter, back when newsletters were on paper.

Meanwhile, he became an active participant in Agricultural College Editors (ACE), later Agricultural Communicators in Education and now called the Association for Communication Excellence. He is a lifetime member. He was recognized with a national Pioneer ACE award and later the top award given to ag communicators.

Early, Dick Lee allowed Duane to enroll in the Missouri Photo Workshop founded by photojournalism education pioneer Cliff Edom of the MU School of Journalism.

That changed his career to an emphasis on reporting with a camera.

Later, he founded a version of the MPW for the American Agricultural Editors Association, the farm magazine group. That weeklong workshop for mid-career journalists ran for 11 years, with cooperation of top ag photographers and Cliff Edom.

Then he was invited by Edom to the MPW, where he had started as a student. When Cliff and Vi Edom retired, they asked Bill Kuykendall, head of the MU photojournalism sequence, and Duane to be co-directors. He did that for 15 years, after serving on the MPW faculty. Since then he has been invited back to work on the daily newsletter as co-director emeritus. That week stretches of eight days. Now mostly millennials instead of mid-career photographers attend.

Meanwhile, on his daily beats, his stories appear in about every paper in Missouri. He has been a contributor to the Missouri Ruralist, a commercial farm magazine. For several years he was listed on the masthead as Contributing Editor. New corporate owners removed that title, fearing it would obligate them to pay.

His first 4-H stories appeared in the Ruralist. More recently, he has had two columns a month, Foraging Ahead and Dailey Discussions. His run in that magazine has been nearly 60 years.

Duane learned to write stories in 140 characters on Twitter. Not often. But his stories now appear in many electronic newsletters from farm commodity groups.

In 2007, Duane was named to the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. Thirteen years ago, Duane received an Alumni Citation of Merit award by the MU ag alumni association.

Duane is the longest standing member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia.

He participants irregularly in the UU forum, the “sunday school” for the older members. His goal was to have his weekly newspaper column draft written in time to go to the forum.

His column, Hometown Boy, appears in five weekly papers, down from six with the demise of the Mercer Mirror. That column ran weekly with only three misses in more than 20 years. All missed deadlines were because of being tied up in intensive care or hospital ERs. Doctor’s excuses available.

Dailey met and married Shirley Jean Kiser at MU. They divorced after raising two brilliant daughters: Lucinda Ann Dailey, a librarian of Ozark, Mo., and Janet Marie Dailey Burke, a nurse in Tampa, Florida.

Dailey’s brother, Elijah, lives on the family farm in Mercer County with his wife, Donna. His sister, Deanna Kay Schreffler, lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with husband Frank.