"Dutch" Elder was born February 25, 1907, on a farm near Klemme, Iowa. In 1929, he received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Iowa State University. Following graduation, he joined the circulation department of The Farmer's Wife magazine. A year later, he became manager of the Blooming Prairie (Minnesota) Times. Later in 1930, he moved to the Osceola (Iowa) Tribune as editor, staying until 1941.
He joined the Iowa State University staff in 1941 as associate editor for the extension service. In 1946, he was named the first director of information for Iowa State when all media services were brought together. In 1963, he joined the Iowa State University Foundation, where he served as its first field secretary and later as executive director.
In 1966, he resigned from Iowa State to accept a two-year assignment in the University of Nebraska's program at the Institute of Colombian Agriculture, Bogota, Colombia.
Elder returned to Iowa State in 1969 and assumed the post of university publications editor. In 1971, he left that position, but continued to work for the university, editing and producing university catalogs and other publications. He retired from the university June 30, 1976 and was named professor emeritus.
He received the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Superior Service Award in 1953. Elder died in Ames October 6, 1997. He was 90.