Boy Next Door Stays True to Latham Roots for 48 years

Greg Jaacks was literally the boy next door. He and his three siblings – Jeff, Kim and Steve – grew up in the little house beside Willard and Evelyn Latham, who employed Greg’s dad at Latham Seeds.

Marvin had moved his family to a larger house a few miles away and rented his own ground to farm. To accommodate the growing Jaacks (pronounced “Jakes”) family, Willard offered to add on two bedrooms to the small house next to his own. That was just the incentive Marvin needed to return to Latham Seeds.


The connections run deep between the Jaacks and Latham families.

“Willard gave me my first haircut as a little boy in their basement,” Greg recalls. Willard and Evelyn’s oldest son, Bill, held baby Greg during the haircut.

Greg and Bill

Greg helped at Latham Seeds as needed while he was in high school. Upon graduating in May 1975, Greg took a full-time job with a local farmer. He loved everything about the job from tilling soil and baling hay to shelling corn and feeding cattle. One thing he didn’t like was the pay. Greg worked 10 hours a day, six days a week for $75 flat. He wanted his own place but needed to make more money first.

“I asked my dad if I could get on his crew at the (Latham) plant,” Greg says. “He told me I’d have to find out for myself. He said I’d better go talk to Willard.”

Greg mustered up the nerve to knock on Willard’s front door. Evelyn answered and welcomed him inside. Willard told Greg he could start work the following Monday if he got a haircut and shaved his beard — which he promptly did.

“As long as you gave Willard what he was expecting, as long as you kept your promise and did your job, he was good to you,” Greg says.

Greg is grateful he got to work beside his dad for nearly 22 years at Latham Seeds. And this fall, he will celebrate his 49th anniversary with the company.

“He really was my best friend,” Greg says of his dad. “It’s been a good, solid job here at Latham. When I started here, that’s what my grandpa said: Latham’s a good solid place to work.” Greg’s grandpa was a local farmer, who also worked on Marvin’s crew during the winter months.

Greg and his wife, Donna, have two daughters, Trisha and Sandy. They enjoy attending their two grandchildren’s activities and watching them play sports. In his spare time, Greg likes to fish, ride his Harley and watch NASCAR.

Greg Family


Greg also enjoys his mom’s Ham Loaf recipe, which reminds him of his childhood on the farm. He is sharing that cherished recipe here.

Ham Loaf


• 1¼ pounds ham
• 1 pound fresh pork burger
• ½ pound ground beef
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 cup milk
• 1½ cups graham
cracker crumbs

• 1 can tomato soup
• 1¾ cup brown sugar
• Scant ½ cup vinegar
• 1 teaspoon dry mustard

• ½ onion, finely diced
• ⅛ teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all meat ingredients; form into loaf.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper or use loaf pan.

Pour sauce over meat and bake for 1 hour, or until the inside of loaf reaches 160.

Rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing.