(West Des Moines, IA) -- The visitation and funeral for former Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey will be this Friday and Saturday. A visitation will be held Friday, from 4-7 p.m. at the Oman Family Youth Inn at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The funeral will be Saturday at 3 o'clock at Valley Church on Fuller Road in West Des Moines. Bill Northey died Monday. He was 64.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to GoServ Global or the Bill Northey Memorial Fund in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. Contributions can be made online at www.foundation.iastate.edu/northey or mailed to the Iowa State University Foundation, 2505 University Blvd, P.O. Box 2230, Ames, IA 50010.
William "Bill" Northey was born on May 27, 1959 to Margaret and Wayne Northey of Spirit Lake. He passed away suddenly on February 5, 2024, at the age of 64.
Bill studied Agricultural Business at Iowa State University, graduating in 1981. He was a member of the FarmHouse Fraternity and served as its president during his senior year. In 2004, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Southwest Minnesota State University.
In 1979, Bill met his wife, Cindy, in Ames. They married in 1983 and celebrated their reception in the Iowa State Memorial Union Sun Room. Moving to Spirit Lake, Iowa, they joined Bill’s grandfather, Sid Northey, in farming and were blessed with three daughters: Jessica, Emily, and Katie.
Early in his farming career, he began serving in leadership roles benefiting agriculture, bringing his perspective as a family farmer and an innovative leader. Bill served as president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and later the National Corn Growers Association. He also served in many other roles, including on the Iowa USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee, on the Ag Ventures Alliance board, as a Dickinson County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner, and as president and committee chairman of the Dickinson County Farm Bureau. He co-founded and served as president of Innovative Growers, LLC.
In 2006, he was elected Secretary of Agriculture for the State of Iowa, a role he proudly held for eleven years. His leadership had a tremendous impact on issues including soil conservation, water quality, renewable energy, foreign animal disease preparedness, and agricultural trade in the state of Iowa and beyond. Bill was widely respected and admired as a friend and mentor.
In 2018, he became the nation’s first undersecretary for farm production and conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving until 2021. Most recently, Bill was the CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa. His contributions as a farmer, public servant, and leader positively impacted countless individuals and communities worldwide.
His curiosity, care for others, and love of learning made him a leader that everyone could admire. Bill brought a farmer’s work ethic to every aspect of his life, and he was tireless in promoting the state of Iowa, its people, and its agriculture. His legacy transcends the fields he cultivated, touching countless lives, and inspiring future agricultural leaders. We pray his impact on Iowa agriculture continues to grow and his legacy be remembered and celebrated by all.
Bill was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He loved his family, especially delighting in his grandchildren. He enjoyed attending his children and grandchildren’s events, encouraging them to pursue what they were passionate about. Traveling was one of his passions; he especially delighted in taking his family with him, experiencing new locations and cultures together.
He is survived by his wife, Cindy; his mother, Margaret Northey; sister, Nancy (Doug) Pringnitz; daughters Jessica (Thomas) Meierotto, Emily (Eric) Brown, and Katie (Eric) Mattson; and six grandchildren: Margaret, Paul, and Eleanor Meierotto, Ava and Jack Brown, and Zoe Mattson. Bill was predeceased by his father, Wayne Northey.