For Mahnomen County farmer David Haugo, nothing was more sublime than the scent of freshly turned soil and a row of tilled earth, straight and true.
Farming was "what he loved and he did it with those he loved," said son, Gary Haugo, of Fargo, N.D.
David Haugo, 82, died earlier this month after a brief hospital stay.
A third-generation farmer, Haugo was born in Mahnomen, the oldest of nine children. He stayed in Popple Grove Township his whole life, tending to the family farm, and later working in partnership with two sons, Allan and John. More recently, he enthusiastically supported his grandchildren taking over the farm — the fifth generation of Haugo family farmers in Mahnomen.
Haugo attended country school in Popple Grove Township and graduated from the Northwest School of Agriculture in 1952.
"We learned a lot about how to work on the farm — good rural values," said his brother, John Haugo, of Hudson, Wis.
David Haugo served on numerous local, state and national community boards. His family says he advocated on the national level for what is now the safety net in modern-day farm programs.
"He told me, 'You always have time to do your job and one other thing,' " son Gary said.
David Haugo was president of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, and was chairman of the USDA Farm Service Agency state committee during the Clinton and Obama administrations. Until his death, he was traveling to St. Paul once a month on FSA business.
"I don't know anybody who knew more about ag and farm programs," said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., a longtime friend. Although he was "tall and imposing personally, he was a very sensitive guy. He was a marshmallow," Peterson said.
"He really cared about people and cared about his family."
Haugo was also active in the DFL Party, and was an advocate for farm cooperatives. His own farm, which swelled to more than 8,000 acres, often served as the site for political fundraisers and visits from foreign dignitaries.
Longtime friend Wally Sparby, of Thief River Falls, said Haugo had a gift for seeing the big picture when considering agriculture policy and practices. "He had that quality of conciliation and get things done," he said.
When he wasn't farming or contemplating ag policy, Haugo was a rabid Minnesota sports fan.
"Regrettably, he was a Gophers basketball fan," his son, Gary, joked last week, noting his father had season tickets for nearly 40 years.
But he'd cheer just as passionately at his children's and grandchildren's sporting events, and regularly attended football games at Concordia College in Moorhead.
"Dad was the ultimate hometown fan," Gary said. "He was a Minnesota guy, through and through."
In addition to his son, Gary, and brother, John, Haugo is survived by his wife, Jean; children Ann Oanes of Moorhead, Allan of Waubun, John of Mahnomen, Paul of Maple Grove, and Dean of Moorhead; 19 grandchildren; five siblings, Donald and George Haugo, Carol Olsen and Patricia Wheaton, and 26 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Olaf and Hazel, and siblings Allan, Marie and Olaf.
Services have been held. Haugo was buried at Wild Rice Lutheran Cemetery in Twin Valley.