John N. Dodgen was born June 22, 1926 in Sapulpa OK to Claude W. and Margaret (Pearl) Dodgen. John lived in Oklahoma City, Enid and Clinton before moving to Ft. Dodge, IA in 1937.
John began his business career at age six selling radishes from door to door. His next employment was five paper routes until age 14. At age 14, John was hit by an Essex automobile and laid up for a year in the Ft. Dodge Lutheran Hospital and at home where he went to school via AT&T’s revolutionary new “Twin Phone” which was the forerunner of the intercom communication system. At age 14, John became a carhop at Treloar’s Inn in Ft. Dodge and advanced to Assistant Manager at age 17.
John graduated from Ft. Dodge High School as President of his class in 1944. After high school he joined the U.S. Navy during WWII and sold $10 million worth of U.S. War Bonds in increments of $25 per bond to Navy, Marine, Coast Guard personnel along with 10,000 munitions workers in Hastings, NE.
After the war, John attended Ft. Dodge Junior College. He and his brothers Joe and Jack started Dodgen Industries in 1947 first distributing and then manufacturing farm equipment. The business flourished so that C.W. Dodgen, their father, became a partner with his three sons in 1951.
On January 29, 1950 John married Wanda Lou Edwards and they celebrated 65 years together and had 4 children, 16 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. In 1954 John took a leave of absence from his business to attend Ottawa University in Ottawa, KS. He graduated 2.5 years later with a B.A. degree and returned to Dodgen Industries. After graduation he became a trustee of the college and served for 35 years on the Board of Trustees. In 1961 he attended Harvard University School of Business and received a PMD diploma.
Upon returning to the company, John merged his three companies and built the present factory in Humboldt, IA where, in addition to manufacturing farm equipment, the company began manufacturing the Born Free Motorcoach and mobile clinics and specialty coaches. John also helped to establish Farm Egg, an integrated poultry operation.
John was nationally recognized in Who’s Who in the Midwest, Who’s Who in Finance & Industry, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, and in A Thousand Greatest Americans in 2003. John’s extra-curricular activities were varied and many. He was an avid fisherman and hunter, recognized as a Master Angler by the Canadian Gov’t and a record Grizzly Bear trophy holder listed in the Boone and Crockett Club. He was also a pilot having soloed with only 2.5 hours of professional training.
John was a prolific inventor, one product of which he invented was the worlds largest piece of farm equipment called the Dodgen Pelletizer, with several patents including most of the equipment his company manufactured through the years. In addition, he received patents on a tomato cage, BBQ rotisserie oven, an adjustable power windshield scraper, a pancake griddle to produce pancakes with a hole in the middle, a swimming pool tube to eject balls through the water up into the air, an athletic game called “Socketball”, a golf putter that reads the slope of the green, and a Rib Cage catering trailer.
John was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Della Mae Kennedy, Jack Dodgen, Joe Dodgen and his granddaughter Emily Downing. He is survived by his wife Wanda, his children Jim (Roe) of Fullerton, CA; Mary Lou(Hal) of Oak Grove, MO; John C.T. (Brenda) of Waxahachie, TX; and Lori (John) of Traverse City, MI; 15 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Sept 12, 2015 at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Humboldt, IA at 2 o’clock with a 1 o’clock visitation. John will be buried at North Lawn Cemetery in Fort Dodge at his family’s gravesite in a private interment. The Mason-Lindhart Funeral Home of Humboldt is in charge of arrangements.