Jeff Axford, Longtime Michigan Seed Potato Association Director, Passes Away

Published online: Apr 16, 2024 Articles
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Longtime Michigan Seed Potato Association (MSPA) executive director Jeff Axford, now retired, died unexpectedly on Saturday, April 13. He was 65. 

Funeral services are scheduled at Charlton Township Hall, 10775 Rowan Ave., Johannesburg MI 49751 at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 20. The township hall is located directly across from Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools off E. Michigan 32 Road.

Axford was an integral part of not only the Michigan potato industry, but the national industry. He served as the head of the MSPA since it was established in 1996 until retiring in 2022. Jeff is the only person to be awarded the Michigan Potato Industry Commission (MPIC) Distinguished Service Award twice — first in 2010 and again in 2022. He was a leader on various state and national industry committees, including chairing both the Potato Association of America Certification Section and the National Potato Council Certification Committee several times.

Axford was born May 30, 1958, to Henry and Bea Axford in Rochester, Michigan, and moved to Sparr with his family in 1971. After graduating from Johannesburg-Lewiston Area High School, he received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Michigan State University. He married his high school sweetheart, Diann Dipzinski, on July 17, 1982. They went on to have two children and two grandchildren, who adored their Papa.

He spent many years working on the Axford family farm and he worked for the Michigan Seed Potato Association (MSPA) for 34 years. In his spare time after retirement, Axford continued working with the MSPA and Iott Seed Farms and serving on the Otsego County EMS Board of Directors and the Johannesburg Christian Church board. Axford’s grandchildren, time spent in his barn, and enjoying retirement with his wife, were a few of his favorite things.