In all of the 3,000 counties across the United States, there are hard-working people in rural areas who seek no publicity and invest their lives in their families and livelihoods, yet distinguish themselves by the way they live.

Last week, Cass County lost one of those men with the passing of Paul Kiser. At 68, he suffered from lung cancer though he had never smoked tobacco.

Kiser had been engaged in farming as long as he was married — almost 50 years. His handshake and his appearance disguised his real age, and he possessed an optimism that made him a natural choice for leadership positions in the farming community. As the father of eight and grandfather of more than two dozen children, he was a consummate family farmer who enjoyed his family and his community as much as anyone in the community. The annual Cass County 4-H Fair, which will be held next week in Logansport, was a place where Kiser and his family spent countless hours that went beyond working on 4-H projects and feeding and showing livestock. Kiser was the type of volunteer who would go the extra mile for the 4-H cause, even wearing a dress and a wig at one point to entertain fairgoers at the livestock auction. His sense of humor was as keen as his senses of community and family, and it all showed during decades of fair weeks.

His commitment to community was probably best represented once during his service on the Pioneer School Board. When discussions over the purchase of new computers for the corporation reached a difficult point, Kiser pulled out his checkbook and offered to donate his entire salary back to the corporation to buy computers. It may not have sounded like much to some people, but at a time when Indiana was allowing building funds to be leveraged to purchase new technology, Kiser was unabashed and unafraid to make the maximum commitment for young people who were already benefiting from his property taxes. In short, he was not afraid to be a leader, and that is a quality that seems to be increasingly scarce in many organizations and communities.

In many delis and bistros, customers can order sandwiches on Kaiser rolls. In Cass and southern Pulaski County where one man spent most of his life on farms, the Kiser roles played by a gentleman and a farmer for 46 years were the most important anyone can play — husband, father, farmer, veteran and concerned citizen.

During his lifetime, Paul Kiser saw many advances in agriculture that made for more plentiful crops and livestock, but there may never be a method for creating a more complete farmer than Paul Kiser.

On Sunday, a John Deere tractor sat riderless in downtown Winamac where dozens stood for hours to pay their respects. Agriculture and the community have lost more than a John Deere owner. They have lost a dear man, neighbor and family man.

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