Jerre Paxton (center) in the Emerald Downs winner's circle, May 11, 2014
OWNER/BREEDER JERRE PAXTON
OF NORTHWEST FARMS DEAD AT AGE 76
AUBURN, Wash. (January 26, 2015) – Jerre Paxton, owner of Northwest Farms, died from an apparent heart attack Sunday night, his wife Debbie said.
Paxton, who maintained residences in Seattle and Yakima, was at his Seattle condominium when he suffered the suspected heart attack. Earlier Sunday, Paxton had attended simulcast racing at Emerald Downs.
“We’re all in shock because he appeared to be perfectly healthy,” said Debbie Paxton, who lives in Yakima, where the family business is headquartered.
A charter member of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame, Mr. Paxton was 76 years old.
In addition to breeding 12 state champions, Paxton (Northwest Farms) also is among the handful of greatest owners in Washington history. At Emerald Downs, Northwest Farms ranks No. 1 with 37 stakes wins including a track and state record eight in 2007.
“We’re stunned and deeply saddened by this loss,” said Emerald Downs founder Ron Crockett. “The red and black silks of Jerre Paxton and Northwest Farms are emblematic for enormous quality.”
Stopshoppingdebbie, a Northwest Farms homebred by Curlin-Taste the Passion, set a track record with eight consecutive stakes wins and finished her career 9-for-9 at Emerald Downs. Elusive Horizon, Shampoo and Smarty Deb also were homebred champions in recent years, with Smarty Deb becoming the first Emerald Downs-based runner to compete in a Breeders’ Cup race while finishing fifth in the 2007 Juvenile Fillies.
Tom Wenzel, who trained Stopshoppingdebbie and several other stars for Northwest Farms, said Paxton was a brilliant horseman who wasn’t afraid to make a big decision.
“This is very sad news for everybody in the industry,” Wenzel said. “Training for Jerre, there wasn’t a lot of gray area, things were always clear to him. We saw eye-to-eye on almost everything, and it was a joy training for a guy like that.”
Before switching the operation to Kentucky, Northwest Farms was the leading breeder in Washington from 1984-to-1995, while standing top sires Drum Fire and Knights Choice. In 1994, Northwest Farms became the first breeder in Washington history to surpass the $1 million mark for earnings in a calendar year.
Northwest Farms has bred a dozen Washington champions: Knights Choice, Loto Canada, Time of Sale, Sharper One, Firesweeper, A Dollar One, Tough to Crack, Money by Choice, Jellystone Park, Serenity Road, Dancing Ovation and Al Renee. Firesweeper was inducted into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame in 2011.
Jerre’s father, Floyd, founded the family business, Kwik Lok Industries, in the 1950s. Kwik Lok produces plastic closure clips for bags used with bred, produce, potatoes and other grocery items. The company has plants in Yakima, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Japan.
Paxton was a regular at Emerald Downs where he watched both live racing and simulcast racing from around the country. In addition, the last two years Northwest Farms has sponsored a stakes race on Washington Cup day, the $50,000 Northwest Farms Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
Wife Debbie of Yakima, and daughters Stephanie Paxton-Jackson of Bainbridge Island, Melissa Paxton-Steiner of Seattle, and Kim Hagner of Oregon, survives Mr. Paxton.