On Nov. 22, Harold Dyck will celebrate his 80th birthday. He plans to be finally retired by then.
Dyck calculates that he has spent 50 years in the hardware business; 38 in Peabody, where he worked in the same building at 124 N. Walnut, but for different owners.
“Back in the 1940s I started out in Newton working for Claassen Oil and Lumber after high school,” he said. “Then I joined the Army, served in Korea, and then came back to Kansas. I got into the hardware business in Peabody after I set a propane delivery truck on fire and decided that was more excitement than I wanted.
“Paul Andros and I owned and operated A and D Propane in this area. On Aug. 7, 1973, I was delivering propane and had my daughter Margi with me. She was just 7. We were near Whitewater and the tank truck motor caught on fire. Within minutes the whole thing was burning.”
Dyck said by the time the Whitewater Fire Department got there, the truck was completely engulfed and they let it burn. “The darn thing just melted,” he said.
“Triple AAA Builder’s Supply in El Dorado had just bought the hardware store here in Peabody and I thought that sounded like a nice quiet job,” he chuckled.
Dyck was manager of the hardware store until the late 1980s when Don Lemley purchased it. Ownership changed hands again when Francis and Marilyn Payne bought the business, followed by the current owners, Mark and Ginger Whitney. Dyck worked part-time for Lemley and the Whitneys.
As an active member of the Peabody business community for more than 30 years, Harold Dyck has a long history of community service.
He served on the Peabody Chamber of Commerce board for more years than he can remember, including a couple of terms as president.
“That was back when the chamber was in charge of the July Fourth Celebration,” he said. “We served all the food, sponsored the dunk tank, kids’ games, exhibits, and baseball tournaments. Many of those years there were 10 to 20 thousand people at the park and it took three hours to get out of Peabody after the show.
“The other thing the Chamber did that I was proud of was organizing several benefit auctions for the community,” he added. “We had one for the cemetery because it was not on the tax rolls at the time. We used the money to pave the drive out there. We also did one for the library, one for Peabody Memorial (now Peabody Care Center), and one for the Christmas decorations the year the community raised $30,000 in a month and a half for the wreaths and strings of lights and garland downtown.”
Dyck also served on the Rod and Gun Club board, Peabody Township Library board, and was a volunteer firefighter.
“I’ve had lots of good friends here and have enjoyed working with the community and being part of the business district,” he said. “I always loved to help people as long as it was a two-way street and they treated me half-way decent.
“I hope people will keep trading with Mark and Ginger. I think it is important for Peabody to keep its hardware store,” he said. “If you have to drive to Newton for a 13 cent screw, how much is that screw really going to cost you? And if you don’t shop locally, that is what will end up happening.”
Dyck’s wife, Neva Lou, retired this summer from Peabody Township Library. They sold their home here several years ago and have been living in a duplex at Kansas Christian Home in Newton. Next week they will move to Kidron Bethel in North Newton.
The couple has two children. John, who just retired from the Air Force, lives in Denver with his wife and step-daughter. Daughter Margi and her husband live in Valley City, N.D., where she is a sales representative for EMD Crop Bio-Science, Inc. Margi has a daughter who lives in New York City.
After years working in one of Peabody’s anchor businesses, Harold Dyck says he is looking forward to retirement.
“We love to travel and will probably spend time visiting our children. When I was 70 years old, I drove a 27-foot U-haul pulling a trailer, to move John to North Pole, Alaska,” he said. “That was just 10 years ago — I think there are still some adventures to have.
“We’ve been going to Red River, N. M. for vacations since 1957,” he added. “We’re going to go out there and stay for awhile just because we like it.
“And then I think I’ll try and catch up on some fishing.”