Dwight Maxon Gadsby of Suitland, Maryland, age 87, died on September 20th, 2020 in Oakton, VA.
He was born on October 2, 1932 in Dickens, Iowa to parents William and Esther (Holmberg) Gadsby. He grew up on their family farm with his siblings, Marilyn and Gary. Dwight loved raising animals, and was very involved in the local 4-H club. He was especially fond of horses. His parents first rented a farm in Lake Township before moving to the Gadsby family farm near Dickens in 1944, where his grandfather had farmed for years.
Dwight attended Lake Center Consolidated School and then Gillett Grove School, both nearby. He studied voice in high school and later developed a passion for opera music. Dwight also loved classical music in general, and he treasured old books, art, and literature. One of his hobbies was just to sit in the farmhouse basement reading whatever books he could get his hands on.
In 1950 Dwight enrolled at Iowa State University in Ames. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and then spent two years in the U.S. Army, serving in Furth, Germany. He returned to Iowa State and earned a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics in 1960.
In 1961 he married Jermaine Folkman, whom he had met at Iowa State. She had grown up on a family farm as well, in Wisconsin. Reportedly, he initially saw her eating an ice cream cone with her friends on campus, and fell in love at first sight. It took several failed attempts to contact her before he was finally successful. He attributed the failed attempts to sabotage by his friends. Dwight was a frequent practical joker, and his friends quite often reciprocated.
He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and the married couple went to Italy, where Dwight studied Agricultural Economics – Resource Valuation, at the Universita Di Padua, in 1961-1962. While he was there he further developed his voice skills for opera under the tutelage of an Italian instructor. This love of opera stayed with him his entire life.
In 1963 Dwight received a job offer from the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. The couple moved and lived in Suitland, Maryland for many years. There they had two children – Winston and Alessandra.
Dwight was involved in many community activities. He was on the board of his children’s school, Henson Valley Montessori, for several years. He was a frequent judge for several local high school Science Fairs as well as for the Prince George’s County Science Fair. He was involved in the Organization of Professional Employees of the US Department of Agriculture (OPEDA) and served as a member of the National Board of Directors as well for several years.
Dwight worked at the USDA for 45 years and he was involved with many projects there, including writing/co-writing many publications that the USDA used in its outreaches. He distinguished himself by promoting catfish farming as a viable enhancement to the nation’s food supply. He retired in 2008 at the age of 75.
Dwight was in the Army Reserves for many years, ultimately achieving the rank of Colonel before his retirement in 1988. He received the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal. He was also involved in efforts to preserve some of the area’s Civil War battlefields, along with several of his colleagues.
He loved his family and relished spending time together with his children, in-laws, and grandson during the holidays and at other family gatherings. He loved passing out gifts to family and friends at birthdays and holidays, and he would sometimes dress as Santa Claus for extended family Christmas gatherings. Dwight would pass out presents to fellow office mates for special occasions, too. His most favorite holidays were Valentine’s Day and Christmas when he could pass out small boxes of candy to many people that he knew from over the years, as well as new acquaintances. He often did this anonymously, but most people figured it out. In his later years he was so dedicated to doing this that he enlisted his children’s help in mailing gifts to colleagues, since he could no longer deliver them in person.
He is preceded in death by his wife Jermaine, who suffered from dementia for several years before she passed away this last year. He is survived by his son and wife, Winston and Lucy; daughter and husband, Alessandra and Steve; and their son, Maxwell.
We would like to give special thanks to the staff at Sunrise of Hunter Mill in Oakton, VA and Capital Caring Hospice. Dwight’s family is grateful for the care provided by his caregivers, especially the most recent one, Sunday, who is from Nigeria, who went above and beyond the call of duty to insure that Dwight was comfortable with all his needs met.
Dwight declined considerably the last few years and had to endure several illnesses. While we miss him, we take comfort that the suffering is over and he is at peace.
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