USCHI HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
Doug Paxton, Wallace, NE - (2008)
Doug was born in October of 1947, in the small town of Wallace, NE. The year after his father, Bill Paxton, and uncle, Roy Cary, bought their first pull-type combine after returning home from World War II. In those years after the war, veterans received preference in the purchasing of farm machinery. As a result, you might say that Doug was literally born into the profession, and the onset of spring always finds Doug itching to have a little chaff in his collar.
I believe that Doug’s greatest contribution to harvesting is the integrity with which he conducts his business, and the number of small towns throughout the heartland that claim him as an adopted son. Be it Wallace, Doug’s place of birth, Watford City, ND, or Weatherford, OK, Doug’s home for much of the past 45 years; Doug always finds himself a welcome addition to the regular game of dominoes, pitch, poker or pinochle. His views on the upcoming harvest, the weather, or the bird population for the approaching hunting season are eagerly anticipated and debated.
No matter the situation, Doug is never too busy to stop and share a story, or a “new” joke. No matter how old the joke really is, there always seems to be that one person in the room who has never seen or heard it before, from the “Polish Finger Tricks” to George Strait, Doug doesn’t care if you are laughing with him or at him, so long as you leave laughing.
Doug has always believed that the best way to treat people is as if they were your next door neighbor. Over my years on the harvest trail, I often found myself working side-by-side with the local farmers: be it cleaning up after a tornado, herding cattle that had wandered away from their pasture, or helping to turn wet grain inside a granary in South Dakota on a 105 degree day. His belief was that down-time was opportunity to build goodwill, and that is the foundation which has kept this family business thriving when times were the toughest for the harvester. Customer service is a lost art, but it is an art that we should all learn.
Doug has taught this art and many other life lessons to a continuing succession of the young men and women of the Paxton Harvesting family. Over time, many have become members of the Paxton Harvesting family, not by birth, but by their association with Doug and Carol. How many crew members did Doug help put through college? How many boys did Doug help make into men? How many long-term crew members found a home within the Paxton family, some until the very end of their days? The undying love and loyalty of friends and family are really the best tribute to all that Doug has accomplished.
Doug was there at the birth of the U.S. Custom Harvesters in 1983. A year earlier, he and others had met in a trailer park in Vernon, TX to discuss the need for an organization working for the interests and betterment of the harvesting industry. Doug would later become one of the very first “lifetime members” of the U.S. Custom Harvesters organization.
Throughout the years, Doug has participated in U.S. Custom Harvester meetings and held numerous offices within the organization. As the chairman of the fund raising committee for several years, Doug’s idea to have the major manufacturers donate combine leases continues to be the most successful fund raising program that the USCHI has ever had. Doug served as a board member for USCHI in 1991-92, was Vice President of the organization in 2000-01 and President of the USCHI in 2001-02. During this time, Doug also served as a member of the “Wheat Ambassador” program which lobbied Congress in 2001 on behalf of harvesters everywhere.
This past year, Doug received yet another honor, as Case IH inducted him and a select few others in their “Axial-Flow 100 Owners Club”. This is a select group of harvesters and farmers who have purchased 100 or more Case IH Axial-Flow machines. Yet another tribute to the loyalty that Doug displays in all areas of his life.
Along the way, Doug found the time and energy to raise a family of four girls and myself, run experimental machinery for Case IH and MacDon, and even teach a few agricultural engineers what it takes to make a combine a little more useful to the farmers and harvesters that purchase them. With five kids, along with cousins, crewing the business in the 80’s and 90’s, as well as the young men of family friends entrusted to him for a summer vacation; Doug and his wife, Carol, now have an extended family that stretches from Texas to North Dakota and beyond, even installing Australian and Canadian branches to the family tree in the late 80’s. I always find it pleasant to think of the number of people who would go out of their way to assist me, in any way possible, as I drive up US-83 and US-81. And I always think of how lucky I was to be introduced to all those “cousins” by my Dad.
In closing, Doug Paxton has been my father for the past quarter of a century. It was in 1981 that I was fortunate enough to have him come into my mother’s life. I went on harvest that first year, and found that I learned significantly more than I bargained for. He taught me the proper way to treat a man, and that I should not expect to be treated any better than I was willing to treat others. He has taught a fair number of teenagers the proper way to grease a combine, cut out a terrace, drive a truck, bank an eight ball, and play a small suited connector. I know, because I was one of them.
Doug Paxton is a man that my entire family is proud of, and is someone that I feel fortunate to call my dad.
Story submitted by Tony Dibler, son of Doug Paxton.