By TJ Rushing, Greenlee Web Team
Duane Kibby has had a successful career in journalism writing news releases for various co-ops since he graduated from Iowa State University in February of 1960. This success, however, could not have been achieved alone, he gives his wife a lot of the credit.
“Marrying my good wife who was very helpful and supportive was extremely important to my career,” Kibby said. “That’s critical, if you’re not committed to your marriage, it has to go, and if you’re not committed to your career, it has to go.”
Kibby was born on May 13, 1936, in Lake City, Iowa. He attended high school at the nearby Lohrville High School and graduated in 1954. He than went to work on a farm, which is what he though he would be doing for the rest of his life.
“When I was a senior in high school, I just figured I was going to be a farmer,” Kibby said. “On the Kibby side of the family, I’m the only one with a college degree.”
While he was farming, a representative from Morningside College came and talked with him about a livestock-marketing program that was being offered by the school. Kibby became interested and decided to give it a shot. After two years, the program had not taken off as well as anticipated, so he decided to leave.
While at Morningside, Kibby developed an interest in meteorology. Since Iowa State was one of the only schools around that had a program, he decided to transfer and give it a try. It turned out that the meteorology program was actually part of the physics department.
“I was not that good of a student in physics, this was not going to work out for me,” Kibby said.
After one semester of meteorology/physics, it was time to move on. Kibby left Iowa Sate and went back to farming, but in the fall of 1958 he decided to come back and give journalism a try. He always enjoyed writing and wrote for the Morningside newspaper while he was there.
“I thought, I’m going to give journalism a try and see how that goes. I figured I’d have a better chance of graduating with a journalism major than with a physics major,” Kibby said.
Kibby was a student manager for the ISU baseball team, which eventually led to him meeting his beloved wife Erma, whom he married in 1958. He also was the sports editor for the Iowa State Daily in 1959, and was involved with KASI, a radio station in Ames. He graduated with a degree in technical journalism in February of 1960.
Immediately after graduating Kibby went to work for John Deere where he was in charge of the operation and instruction manuals put out by the company. He soon found out that in order to move up the “corporate ladder”, he would have to relocate multiple times. Kibby was not willing.
“Being from small town Iowa and living here my whole life, I wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of moving away,” Kibby said.
After five years with John Deere he interviewed with the Farmers Grain Dealers Association (FGDA). He was hired, and for five years he wrote news releases and brochures for the company. He would also occasionally write feature stories on newsworthy events within the FGDA.
Kibby eventually became the editor of a monthly magazine and a weekly newsletter that was mailed to the co-op managers and directors of co-op elevators.
Kibby always wanted to be self-employed, so after five years with the FGDA he decided to take a chance and start a “ghost writing” career writing news releases for local co-ops about grain elevators, for the most part, and anything else to do with farming.
Kibby got the snowball rolling writing about five news releases a month in the beginning, and by the early 1980’s he was doing between 30-35 during some months. While accomplishing all this, Kibby also managed to write sports stories for the Ankeny Press Citizen, started a newspaper called Big Creek News in Polk City, and was president of Maynard Printing in Des Moines (which is where his publications were printed).
When asked to give advice to aspiring journalists at Iowa State, Kibby was not short on words.
“There’s a wide range of jobs out there. You need to take interest in the field you’re doing and talk to somebody in that field to get some insight as to the positives and negatives of that field. Journalism is more than just writing. Learn how to take pictures and other stuff, there’s just so many things you can learn there at Iowa State,” Kibby said. “You have to enjoy your work, no matter what you’re doing, and you have to stay up on current events and be familiar with what your readers want to read and hear.”
Kibby wrote his last news release in September for a co-op in Bondurant. Ironically, he wrote his very first self-employed news release in 1970 for a co-op also in Bondurant.
Kibby still writes to this day, and currently his main source of business is writing and editing a 20 page monthly shrine magazine called "Feetprints" for Za-Ga-Zig which is based out of Altoona. The publication has won many awards over the years for the work Kibby has done.