Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Donald C Huber

Born - February 14, 1926 in Yankton, SD
Died - July 31, 1998 in Sioux Falls, SD
Siblings - Harold, Marjorie, Mary
Spouse - Rita Iversen
Children - Steven R, John C, David J, Michael H, Kristine G

Donald C Huber
Don Huber was born in Yankton, SD, where he spent his early years living on a farm. He would often refer back to those early years as the best times of his life.

Donald Huber 1934

During his teen years, Don moved North with his family to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

In Sioux Falls, Don attended school at the Cathedral. In 1943, at the tender age of 17, Don dropped out of school to join the Merchant Marines.

Don is pictured below in the second row, 3rd from the left. The location this photo was taken is unknown, but it was probably taken after basic training.

One of Don's favorite stories from his days in the Merchant Marines surrounds events that occurred on the first ship he found himself assigned to. A day or two before that ship was scheduled to set sail, he overheard a few of the senior sailors talking, and from what he could hear, it sounded like they were planning to deep six (murder) one of the other crew members. He was only 17 at the time, he was new, and he was scared. Not knowing what to do, but knowing that he did not want to make the cruise, Don decided to injure himself by intentionally throwing himself down a flight of stairs. The plan worked, as he was still laid up in the hospital when that ship left port. Don never did find out if a murder took place on that cruise, but what he did find out was even more disturbing; that ship hit a World War II mine on that cruise and sunk, killing everyone on board.

Don served on a number of different ships in the Merchant Marines, one of those being the S.S.Wilde Wave.

In 1947, Don left the Merchant Marines and returned to Sioux Falls. In the first of numerous business ventures, Don worked as a manager at a Red Owl store, along with Andy Jelsma, his brother in-law. The two of them, along with another Red Owl manager, would go on to open a Super Value grocery store on the corner of 26th and Cliff avenue. This is the ad that appeared in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader announcing the new store:

After only a couple of years, Don would leave the partnership and go on to manage the Walgreens in downtown Sioux Falls.

Don Huber and his father Henry pose with some friends after a successful day of fishing on the Jim River in 1951

While at Walgreens, Don was under a lot of pressure to go to pharmacy school, but he resisted, since he didn't want to be what he called a "pill pusher". In 1956, Don left Walgreens after purchasing a Standard service station on East 10th street just to the West of what was then a Piggly Wiggly store. Don named that station Don's Hi-Way Service.

Don's Hi-Way Service on East 10th street in Sioux Falls, SD @ 1959

In 1957, Don met the woman who would later become his wife. Her name was Rita Iversen. The two met while Rita was working as a car-hop at Ricky's Drive Inn a.k.a Ricky's Quicky Chicky, which was located just to the East of the Piggly Wiggly store. Don and Rita were married in 1959:

Don and Rita Huber
During their first year of marriage, Don and Rita secured a loan from Rita's father Jacob, which they used to purchase a fast food place just a block East of Don's Hi-Way Service. That place was called Frosty Treat. Purchase price; $22,000.

Frosty Treat on East 10th street in Sioux Falls, SD @ 1959

Initially, management duties were split, with Don managing the service station, while Rita managed the Frosty Treat. This changed in 1961 when the young couple made the decision to sell the service station. This was done so that Rita could stay at home with the children. By 1965, there were four boys, and in 1972 a girl was added to the Huber clan;

Don, Rita, Steve, John, David, Mike and Kristine Huber
Don and Rita divorced in the mid-1970's. The divorce was not amicable, but the two would reconcile in later years. Don never re-married.

Don continued running the Frosty Treat through the rest of the 1970's, but business was slowing down as more national burger chains moved into town. In 1980, Don swapped the hamburgers for tacos, and re-named the place Taco Rita.

The name choice created speculation among some that perhaps this was an attempt at re-kindling a relationship with Rita by putting her name in neon lights. Don took his reasons for the name choice to his grave.

In the mid-1980's, Don sold Taco Rita and retired, but only temporarily. The state of South Dakota legalized video lottery in 1989, and that enticed Don to team up with Dann and Bill Grevlos, the owners of the local Shop'n Cart stores, to open up a restaurant called The Neon Diner. Don managed the diner for a couple of years in the early 1990's, then went back into retirement.

Don spent his retirement years living in Sioux Falls. He loved nature, and took advantage of every opportunity he could find to get out and enjoy it.

Donald C Huber