Mark Pearson, Market to Market host, dies at 54

Mark PearsonMark Pearson, host of Iowa Public Television’s nationally syndicated Market to Market, died June 2 at grain and livestock farm in rural Madison County of an apparent heart attack. He was 54.

“Iowa Public Television lost a friend and a colleague today,” the station said in a statement late that day, “and the state of Iowa lost a smart, enthusiastic, and talented agricultural broadcaster with the passing of Mark Pearson.”

“For more than 20 years, Mark was Market to Market — reporting on the latest news in agribusiness while providing critical insights for viewers across the nation,” the statement said.

[In July, Iowa Public Television chose Pearson's son Mike as his successor on the show, DesMoinesRegister.com reported.  Mike Pearson had managed his family's livestock and grain operation, worked in banking and reported for public radio station WOI-AM.]

“Traversing the State Fairgrounds with Mark was like travelling with Elvis,” said a colleague in an obituary for Market to Market‘s website.  “It was as if everybody knew him and Mark did his best to visit with each and every one of them.”

Pearson also was known to many for his work hosting IPTV’s State Fair coverage, the statement noted.

A station spokesperson told Current the show will continue, with a new host or hosts to be announced. A special tribute to Pearson’s career aired June 8 on Market to Market.

Pearson was born Sept. 8, 1957, in Lafayette, Ind., to Robert and June Pearson. He graduated from Naperville (Ill.) Central High School in 1975 and the University of Arizona in Tucson in 1979, where he majored in journalism. Pearson met his wife, Eden, at the university in 1976, and they married in Phoenix in 1978.

He began his broadcast career in the farm department of WHO Radio in Des Moines. In 1980, he received the most coveted award in agricultural broadcasting, the DeKalb Oscar. He also served as Iowa’s assistant secretary of agriculture.

In 1985, he was named director of agricultural programming for Minnesota Public Radio’s commercial farm network, 50 stations in Minnesota and Iowa carrying farm markets and news.

In 1986, Pearson entered the U.S. Naval Reserves as a military intelligence officer, eventually attaining the rank of lieutenant commander.

Survivors include his wife, Eden; son Mike and his wife, Heidi; daughters Katie, Betsy, and Ellie; his father, Robert Pearson; father-in-law Tom Fridena; sisters Kay (Dave) Haughey and Sarah (David) Garcia, and two nieces and two nephews.

He was preceded in death by his mother, June Pearson, and his mother-in-law, Pat Fridena.

Funeral services were held June 8 at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines. A private family burial was planned. The family suggested memorial contributions to Heifer International, P.O. Box 8058, Little Rock, AR 72203-805.

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