Former Eustis Resident: Clayton Yeutter (1930-2017)
Clayton Yeutter died at home in Potomac, Maryland, on March 4th, 2017, after a four-year battle with metastatic colon cancer.
Clayton Yeutter moved as seamlessly among high level positions in both the public and private sectors as has anyone in the U.S. in the post-World War II period. He did so while maintaining the respect and cooperation of friend and political foe alike. He held a Cabinet post (U.S. Trade Representative) under President Reagan, another (Secretary of Agriculture) under President George H.W. Bush, and then had a short stint (1991) as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, before finishing his tenure in government as Counselor to the President, a Cabinet-level White House post, also under President George H. W. Bush. Earlier in his career he held two sub-Cabinet appointments in the Department of Agriculture and then a sub-Cabinet appointment in the Office of the Special Trade Representative.
Straddling these public sector undertakings was a seven year tenure as CEO of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. That was the beginning of an enormous period of growth for the exchange, which now has the largest market cap of any exchange in the world.
Yeutter was raised an only child on a central Nebraska farming and cattle operation which struggled to survive in the drought/depression years of the 1930s. Thanks to the hard work of his parents, the Yeutter farm did survive. Clayton Yeutter went on to earn a B.S. in Animal Husbandry, a J.D. and a Ph.D. (agricultural economics), all from the University of Nebraska with highest academic honors.
Yeutter’s first public service involvement was as Chief of Staff to the Governor of Nebraska from 1967-68. He then received his international baptism as Director of the Nebraska Mission to Colombia, then the largest agricultural technical assistance program in the world. That led him into the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where his mentor, Dr. Clifford Hardin, had become Secretary.
Yeutter made his mark in trade negotiations during the second Reagan term. He led the negotiations of what was then an historic U.S. Canada Free Trade Agreement, which later became NAFTA. In contrast to what some American political figures have been saying recently, most independent analysts would rate NAFTA as one of the most successful trade negotiations ever consummated. Yeutter also played a major role in launching the Uruguay Round of negotiations, which culminated in creation of the World Trade Organization. He and his team negotiated a whole host of bilateral agreements, including historic agreements with Japan on semiconductors, beef and citrus. In addition, he was heavily involved in helping persuade the European Union to begin reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy.
As Secretary of Agriculture, Yeutter managed the 1990 Farm Bill process, resulting in the most market oriented policy the U.S. had
followed since the 1930s.
Clayton Yeutter was born on December 10th, 1930 in Eustis, Nebraska. His first wife, Jeanne Vierk Yeutter, died suddenly in 1993 after 40 years of marriage. He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Cristena Bach Yeutter, of Potomac. He is also survived by his children Brad (Deb) of Lincoln, Nebraska, Gregg (Jill) of Omaha, Nebraska, Kim Bottimore (John) of Vienna, Virginia, Van (Shelley) of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and Victoria, Elena and Olivia, all of Potomac, nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 8th, at The Fourth Presbyterian Church, 5500 River Rd., Bethesda, Maryland. A reception will immediately follow in the Upper Room of the church. Private burial will be at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to the University of Nebraska Foundation for the support of the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance (#01126990), University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE 68508. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to the University of Nebraska Foundation for the support of the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance (#01126990), University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE 68508.