Bob Fields has been a successful in business, farming and government. But when you talk to folks who know him, they tell you of a man who has a strict code of honesty and fairness and whose word, according to one business associate, "is as good as the Bible."
By the time Fields received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University in 1951 and 1953, respectively, he had already served his country as a B-29 navigator in the China-Burma-India Theatre in WWII. For 37 years he owned R. F. Fields Implement Company, a John Deere dealership, in Lafayette. For many years, Fields was one of John Deere's leading dealers in the state. Fields' associates say that he would amaze customers and employees alike with his ability to recall every detail of a transaction, no matter how long ago it had occurred. This phenomenal grasp of detail and attention to "the numbers" earned Fields the respect of the John Deere organization and resulted in a customer base that was "the most loyal of any dealer's in my territory" says Larry Carr, former Territory Manager for John Deere Company.
Fields was also a mentor to young farmers and provided much more than just equipment for their operations. His proximity to Purdue also meant that when agriculture classes, particularly those in farm management, had assignments that involved assembling prices and equipment specifications, the Fields dealership would be inundated with students. Says Lafayette farmer Gary Standiford, "Even though Bob was running a very busy dealership, he treated the students just like he treated the customers. He and his staff spent a lot of time working with them. Bob remembered what it was like to be a student, and he just wanted to help out." He also helped a lot of young people as a major buyer at 4-H fair livestock auctions for many years. Fields was a sponsor of 4-H programs, and he was a major buyer at area 4-H fair livestock auctions for many years.
Fields is still actively farming with his son, with farms in the Buck Creek and Brookston areas. The operation includes grain, hay and cattle feeding. Fields has been a member of the Livestock Feeder Association and the Indiana Beef Cattle Association. His Brookston farm hosted the M & W Farm Power Show in 1971.
His community activities include service to local government as a Tippecanoe County Commissioner for two terms, 1972-1980. As one friend said, "Bob was already working 20 hour days. He sure didn't need another job, but he told me that he needed to do this to give back to the county." Fields applied his business experience to help the county better manage its affairs, and his common sense approach and sense of fair play meant that constituents got fair and equal consideration of any problems or concerns they brought before the commissioners.
Fields is a 28-year member of the Lafayette Rotary Club and a member of Lafayette's Central Presbyterian Church. He has served as the president of the advisory board for Alpha Gamma Rho agriculture fraternity, and he served on the board of trustees for Ivy Tech State College representing Region 4. He is currently serving on the board of the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Trust Fund where, in administering the fund's scholarship programs, he continues to help young people pursue higher education.