A well-known Iowan described as a farmer, banker and citizen-diplomat died of cancer last night. 74-year-old John Chrystal was President of Iowa Savings Bank, had been named Iowa Farm Leader of the Year in 1987 and is called a national democratic leader by Rob Tully, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.Chrystal was instrumental in bringing then-Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev to Iowa in the 1950s and later, made many trips to Russia as an advisor on trade relations. Chrystal, of Coon Rapids, was the first American to meet former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, then a party officer in 1981. Tully says Chrystal had dignity and passion for politics — he was a candidate for Governor in 1990. Tully says democratic leaders across the state are sadened by Chrystal’s loss.A decade ago, Chrystal organized two-thousand volunteers to help modernize Russia’s agricultural system and was awarded many honors by the Russians, including the “Order of Friendship” in 1996 — the 2nd American to receive the title.
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