Speeches

Paying Tribute to Atchison’s Ladd Seaberg

“Most everything good in Atchison involved Ladd and his family.”

Mr. President, thank you.

Ladd Seaberg – a Kansas resident, his home is Atchison, Kansas – he passed away on Kansas’ 156th birthday. My state lost an individual who epitomizes all that it means to be a Kansan. Throughout his life, Ladd was dedicated to serving his family, his friends, his colleagues and his hometown of Atchison. Atchison is along the Missouri River, the Kansas River, right on our border with our neighboring state. A long history in that community. And he and his family have had a long opportunity that they have taken advantage of to benefit the citizens of that community. He fought a courageous fight with a terrible progressive neurodegenerative disease, and he was laid to rest last week. As a stalwart figure of northeast Kansas who worked at MGP Ingredients for 40 years, he will long be remembered for his character and his leadership. Most everything good in Atchison involved Ladd and his family.

Ladd was not born a Kansan. He was born in West Texas and graduated from Texas Tech University where he met his wife Karen Cray during a national science fair put on by the U.S. Air Force. Naturally, both won first place awards at the fair and later moved to Karen’s hometown of Atchison where they made their life and raised their family. With a degree in chemical engineering and a mind of a true engineer, he had a passion for understanding the way things work on a mechanical level. His love of tinkering led him to a long-time hobby as an avid amateur radio operator. Upon moving to Atchison, he began working at MGP as a distillery production manager. During his first 11 years there, Ladd rose to become the company’s president, later its CEO and then its chairman of the board. He had an integral role in bringing the company public when it became listed on Nasdaq’s exchange.

Ladd and his beloved wife Karen, who now serves as MGP’s board chairwoman, were blessed with two daughters [and] six grandchildren who still live in Kansas today.

Beyond his leadership at the company, MGP, where his intelligence and encouraging management style will long be remembered, Ladd contributed on numerous boards and to even more organizations that improved the lives of those who live in the community and around the state. To name but just a few, he was the founding member of the International Wheat Gluten Association, separately represented the U.S. grain commodities community at World Trade Organization meetings and was a board member of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

 He was also one of the original founders of the Atchison Area Economic Development Council, a long-time member of the Atchison County Historical Society and a former chairman of the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce board. Ladd’s leadership was indispensable on the Amelia Earhart Bridge Committee to construct a new bridge in 2012 across the Missouri River, named for a fellow pilot, fellow Kansan, Amelia Earhart, and one of our state’s proudest daughters. And he cared deeply about education in his community as evidenced by the recognition he and his wife received from Benedictine College: the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict, the institution’s highest honor. His faith also played a significant role in his life, having served as elder and deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Atchison.

One can hardly overstate what he meant to northeast Kansas as Ladd always sought opportunities to serve fellow Kansans. He was a mentor to many and gave of himself to all who were fortunate enough to pass his way. I appreciate his contributions to our state and my prayers have been with his wife and family. [A] father and grandfather, it’s sad that Ladd was laid to rest, but may he rest in peace.