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Ag broadcaster Derry Brownfield dies at age 79

Ag broadcaster Derry Brownfield dies at age 79

March 13th, 2011 in News

Derry Brownfield demonstrates that the century old brass fire lantern used by his grandfather George Stegner when he was California Fire Chief still works.

Photo by David Wilson

Missouri-based agricultural broadcaster and radio talk show host Derry Brownfield died Saturday at his residence in Centertown. He was 79.

Brownfield was the host of his own radio talk show titled "The Common Sense Coalition" and a co-founder of the Brownfield Network, an agricultural news service for radio stations in several states.

"It's with a heavy heart that I learned this morning that Derry passed away last night in his sleep," Chuck Zimmerman posted Saturday afternoon on Derry Brownfield's Facebook page. "My wife/partner, Cindy and I helped Derry start his talk show when we worked with him and we've always considered him a very good friend. Our prayers are with Verni his wife and Joy, Jay, John and Jim their children as well as all the folks that make up the Common Sense Coalition."

Another post on Brownfield's Facebook page called the loss "totally unexpected" and reported that his family is "in shock."

Brownfield and partner Clyde Lear teamed to create the Jefferson City-based Learfield Communications in the early 1970s.

From Brownfield's website: "Together, the two rounded up a few investors and borrowed the money that allowed them to create the Brownfield Network. The Brownfield Network debuted on January 2, 1973, with 10 radio stations broadcasting farm facts, crop data, weather reports, commodities news and opinions. The network ultimately boomed to 190 stations and Derry's own show was carried by more than 80 stations nationwide."

Brownfield told the Kansas City Star in a 1986 article that the Brownfield Network "really took off" after it started, spurred partly by rough economic times in the 1970s.

"Farmers and farm stations suddenly demanded news," Brownfield told the newspaper.

His website says people would be better off applying this lesson he learned at an early age: "The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm!"

"He (Derry) talked the talk the farmers talk, knew the issues farmers knew - because he was a farmer, himself," Missourinet News Director Bob Priddy wrote Saturday in a blog post. Missourinet was created as a companion news network to the Brownfield farm network.

"He'd been out working with his cattle yesterday," Priddy wrote Saturday. "I'm not sure life was ever better for Derry than when he was on his horse among the cattle, or when he was sitting on the porch of the cabin he built "way back on his property, telling stories or sharing his views of the world."

"Today we lost an icon and a patriot," wrote one of Brownfield's fans on Facebook. "Derry was a champion of free market principles and property rights with a voice of common sense."

Funeral services for Brownfield are pending at Bowlin-Cantriel Funeral Services, California, Mo.