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Kline, Allan Blair

Published onAug 18, 2021
Kline, Allan Blair

(November 10, 1895 — June 14, 1968)

Quick Facts

Alumnus Allan Kline raised as many as one thousand pigs each year on his personal farm; President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him to the Office of War Information in 1944 and he was integral in the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and American Farm Bureau Federation.

Born on a farm in northeastern Nebraska, on November 10, 1895, Allan Blair Kline was the second of Charles E. and Mary Elizabeth Allen Kline’s children. Of long-term American stock, Kline could trace his ancestry to several generations of Yankee stock: New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, and Ohioans. A bright boy, Kline attended local schools in Dakota and South Sioux City, entering Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, while only 15 years of age. While he had every intention of returning to the farm, the opportunity to further his education could not be overlooked. Kline majored in German and minored in English and philosophy, working his weekends and vacations on the farm. After five years, he held a BA.

Before long, however, the classroom called again. In 1917, he commenced the study of animal husbandry at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University). The Great War interrupted Kline’s studies at Ames; he served as a sergeant in the Medical Corps, 61st Infantry. Graduating with a BS in 1919, Kline wed Gladys Remer and commenced farming on his own, rented land in near Vinton in Benton County, Iowa. Like many before him and few after, Kline climbed the agricultural ladder from tenancy to ownership

Focusing his efforts on hogs, Kline raised as many as one thousand pigs each year. The farm’s soil needed drastic improvement, having been rented for many years by less astute farmers. Accordingly, Kline arranged for the application of lime and phosphorus and the growing of legumes. It began to turn a profit even in the dark days of the Great Depression. Always energetic and ambitious, Kline spent spare hours building a tennis court and a swimming pool, as well as building a string of riding horses and singing in a local glee club.

Despite the multitude of activities that occupied his time—including three children—Kline took time to participate in the programs of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. Commencing in the 1920s, he served as township director, president of the Benton County Farm Bureau, and ultimately taking a seat as a member of the IFBF’s board of directors. After serving as vice president of the organization, in 1943 Kline became president of his state’s federation. Kline’s understanding of farm conditions led President Franklin Roosevelt to appoint him to the Office of War Information in 1944. He spent two months in Great Britain advising Britons on farming conditions in the United States, methods of agricultural recovery and, particularly, of farm life in the Midwest.

Kline’s stature grew with his appointment to consult with the delegates to the San Francisco conference who ultimately devised the United Nations. Also in the 1940s, Kline traveled to London to represent the United States at the International Federation of Agricultural producers. In 1947, he toured the Netherlands and West Germany to encourage agricultural organization. The same year, he was voted the title of Iowa “Master Farmer” by a committee representing the Department of Agriculture, Iowa State University, Wallaces’ Farmer and Iowa Homestead and other representatives of the press. WHO radio recognized Kline as a “Master Swine Grower” in 1945.

As Kline entered his sixth decade, he might have been forgiven for passing along some of his responsibilities to a younger generation. That was not, however, to be the case. In 1947, Kline was elected to the presidency of the American Farm Bureau Federation, replacing the retiring Edward O’Neal for whom he had served as vice president. Kline was the second Iowan to serve as the organization’s president.

Kline served as AFBF president for eight years, during which he traveled the world in the interests of not only American agriculture but also in consideration of rural reconstruction in Europe and the Far East in the aftermath of World War II. He spent over a month in Japan in the interest of expanding trade opportunities. The stabilization of prices also gained the attention of Kline, as did assorted affairs on the domestic scene.

Following his eight years as AFBF president, Kline served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Export-Import Bank of Washington, D.C. And while his elder son tended to the farm in his father’s frequent absences, the man who considered being a “good hog man” the most important title of his working life, kept his eye on the acres and activities of his Benton County land.

Kline died on June 14, 1968, survived by his wife, his three children and their spouses, as well as numerous grandchildren. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Vinton, Iowa.

Selected Sources

D. B. Groves and Kenneth Thatcher, The First Fifty: History of Farm Bureau in Iowa (1968)

Christian Science Monitor, February 8, 1948

Time, December 29, 1947

United States Censuses, 1880-1940.

 Allan B. Kline interview by William Bradford Huie, 1910-1983 and Henry Hazlitt, 1894-1993, in Chronoscope (New York, NY: Columbia Broadcasting System, 1951), 15 mins.


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