From Iowa to Washington, Tom Latham’s Quiet Leadership Carries On

Husband. Father. Statesman. Businessman.

Regardless of the hat he is wearing, people in Tom Latham’s circle of influence will tell you he exudes humility and quiet strength.

“I never learn a thing when I’m talking,” Tom Latham told a The Des Moines Register reporter upon his retirement from U.S. Congress in 2015. “You learn things when you’re listening to other folks. And I think we should all maybe step back and listen to each other more.”

Tom’s understated style made him incredibly effective as a salesman for 19 years with Latham Seed Co. where he worked with his father, Willard, and his brothers Bill and Don. When the marketplace changed in the mid-1970s, the family-owned company moved from selling almost solely through farmer-cooperatives to a farmer-dealer network. Tom traveled throughout Iowa, literally selling bags of Latham® soybeans out of his trunk and signing up farmers as dealers.

Tom, Willard, Don and Bill Latham in front of processing plant copy

Tom, Willard, Don and Bill Latham in front of processing plant.

He applied that roll-up-your-sleeves and get-to-work attitude from 1995 to 2015 as a U.S. Representative. He never faced a serious challenge as the 5th District’s congressman and proudly served for 20 years.

Congressman Latham spent months securing the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest civilian honor – for Norman Borlaug, an Iowan whose work in crop genetics is credited with saving one billion people from starvation. Congressman Latham also led efforts to modernize the largest federal animal disease center in the United States, located in Ames.

Tom credits his wife of 47 years, Kathy, for being the glue that held the household together while he was on the road with Latham Seeds or traveling to and from Washington, D.C. Kathy joined Tom in Washington and happily focused her support on his political career. She enjoyed spending time with Tom and everywhere their travels took them.

Tom and Kathy raised three children: Justin, Jennifer and Jill.

Kathy’s family loves her chocolate chip cookie recipe, so we’re sharing it with you today.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1, 12-ounce package of chocolate chips


  1. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy; then mix in eggs and vanilla
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Gradually add them to the creamed mixture.
  3. Mix well, and stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

NOTE: If batter seems too moist, add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of flour