David Hugh Rhead

1927 - 2014


A picture of David Rhead at 2 years old

September, 1933
My parents were living on a farm in Albion Township, a little over 2½ miles west of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. I was enrolled in the first grade at Papoose Creek School, about 2 miles from the farm. You had to live 2½ miles from school to get a ride there and back home. The teacher told my dad she would pick me up and drop me off on her way home. The school had one large room for grades 1-8. The entry way was a small hall type room as a cloak room and it had a stove to heat soups and cocoa that the kids brought from home.

September, 1934
We had moved to Trempealeau, Wisconsin. Dad worked as a construction worker in the building of a dam. I went to Healy Memorial School about 1 mile from our house. Studied grades 2 and 3 there. During the Summer of 1936, we moved back on the farm due to my grandfathers ill health. It was back to Papoose Creek for grades 4, 5 and 6. My sister, Beverly, was in the first grade during 1938-39 and my brother Jim, was in the first grade 1939-40. The years spent on the farm were very difficult. The Great Depression had been going on since the Stock Market crash of 1929. The loss of jobs and income put many on relief programs or soup lines in the large cities. There were also many suicides. Prices for farm products were at an all time low, which made it difficult for small farms to survive. I found out at 11 years of age there were certain duties I must do. Dad and Uncle Bob did the real heavy work. I carried wood inside for the cook stove. Barn work was a must. This entailed milking the Holstein cows and I usually milked 2 or 3 cows. The rest of the 12 cows were milked by dad and Uncle Bob. The stalls and the gutters had to be cleaned and straw had to be put down for both the cows and horses. The milk had to go through a separator to extract the cream, which would be sold to the cream station in town. My grandparents (on my father's side) both passed away during early 1937. At that time, it was usual for the funeral services to be held in the home. Our house was filled with relatives and friends. I spent summer time with these relatives when we lived in Trempealeau and they had been good to me. It was sad times for us all.

A picture of David Rhead at about 9 years old In the summer months of 1938 and 1939, cousin Eugene Lanning spent time with us. It was good to see him because he was 4 years older than me and could do some of the farm work. Hurray!

During 1939, we finally had electricity in the house and a yard light. At least we could now see if we had to use the outdoor privy. Mom no longer had to wash clothes standing over a wash tub with a scrub brush and wash board. The Speed Queen Wringer Washing Machine was a godsend for her. The Federal government program to aid in electrifying rural areas, gave the farmers electricity and put people to work as well.

By 1940, a decision had been made to sell the farm. The low prices were rarely enough to pay expenses. Uncle Bob told Dad he wanted out and was leaving for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He stayed to help with getting the hay to the barn and then left.

The farm was sold and we moved to Merrillan, Wisconsin in September, 1940. During the Summer, the National Guard held maneuvers in the woods across the road from the farm. Some of them had wooden guns, not enough real ones for all. Such was the state of our armed forces. The National Guard told Dad they would be going to the Philippines in the Fall. After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded and took many, if not all, prisoners, who were then physically abused, starved or tortured to death. Mom's first cousin, John Lanning, was captured on Bataan and died in a prison camp in 1944.

Shortly after moving to Merrillan, I was in the barbershop and sitting in the chair getting a hair cut was an old man. I asked the barber who he was and the barber replied, "That's Mark Merchant, a retired banker and Civil War veteran." Mr. Merchant was about 93 at that time and he was the last surviving veteran from Jackson County, Wisconsin. It made an impression on me.

The 7th grade was a new experience for me. It was a totally different structure than what I was used to in the one room school. Mr. Frost, the janitor, kept the school open on Monday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm so kids could learn the basic fundamentals of basketball. It was the first time I had seen or touched a basketball. Boy did I have a lot to learn about the game. Without Mr. Frost and the volunteers who worked with him, I wouldn't have been able to try and make the high school team.

During the Summer of 1941, I was able to get a paper route delivering the La Crosse Tribune, an evening paper with no Sunday edition. That gave me a little spending money. The worst thing that happened was the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, which ushered in World War II. Monday morning, December 8, 1941, during the start of study hall, the principal set up a radio and we listened to President Roosevelt's Address to Congress, asking for a State of War between the Japanese Empire and the United States of America. He said, "...December 7, 1941, was a date that would live in infamy."

At that time, when a student finished 8th grade, a ceremony was held at the same time as high school graduation and was given a certificate showing the completion of the 8th grade. So, we were on our way to high school.

A picture of David Rhead as a high school graduate In high school my activities were basketball 1-2-3-4 (Captain 1 year); softball 1-2; Senior Class Play; Gym 1-2-3-4; Forensics 4; Annual Staff 4; Class President 3; Vice President 2; and four one-act plays. I didn't have too much trouble with grades until my junior year. The first two years I maintained a "B" average but Chemistry and French weren't my strong suit. I was told by the principal that the "D" Mrs. Bolger gave me in Chemistry could have been an "F", making me ineligible for basketball the first semester. Mrs. Bolger was a really nice lady and she told me to apply myself more, study harder. Even though I received B's in my other classes, my grade average dropped to 80 for the year. It was a wakeup call for me. During my senior year, the grades were much improved with an "A" in History and B's in the other subjects.

My senior year was great. Our class had 3 boys and 8 girls and we all worked well on projects with no big squabbles. The girls on the Annual Staff did a great job in putting together the annual. Ace Loomis and I had worked together to obtain advertising funds to pay for the printing of our school annual.

I loved being in plays. It didn't take me long to learn my lines and it was fun. Our English teacher also started Forensics. Ace and I did orations and two of the girls did reading. We won in the District but lost in the finals of the Sub-State. Yes, we were disappointed but going to the Sub-State meet was great for such a small school.

All four years of high school, I was on the basketball team. As a freshman and sophomore, I didn't get much playing time, however, I was learning and growing in the 10th grade. I was 5' 10" and was sure I would get to 6'. It never happened. I never got any taller. As a junior, my playing time increased and I was sixth man. In my senior year, I was a starter and co-captain.

A picture of David Rhead playing basketball in high school During the four years I played basketball, our team never had a losing season. We went to Eau Claire, Wisconsin for the district tournament, three years in a row and lost in the finals to the same team, Altoona, Wisconsin, all three years. A week before the tournament, I sprained my right ankle. I played in the first game and made 16 points; Ace Loomis made 20 points. The team won big. Sometime in the second half of the next game, I hurt my ankle again. We won the game, went to the final and lost. I didn't play a minute due to my injured ankle. My basketball playing days were over. I knew I didn't have the height or the talent to play on the college level.

Softball wasn't big and we only played four games in the Spring, two at home and two on the road. Softball was cancelled after my 2nd year due to lack of interest and gas rationing. Because of the war, no one wanted to use their gas to haul kids to games. Gasoline was rationed and if you had a C stamp, you could get 8 gallons a week. Coffee and sugar were also rationed. Auto tires were almost impossible to find as the rubber was being used in the war effort. We didn't have a car so we rode a bus to go to Black River Falls, Wisconsin, 12 miles south of Merrillan, to shop for clothing.

About April 1, 1946, Ace Loomis, Bobby Olsen and I asked the principal if we could leave early to join the Army. We wanted to earn benefits from the GI Bill to further our education. The principal told us to complete our term paper, that along with our grades would fulfill the requirement for a high school diploma. We were free to enlist in the Army! We went to La Crosse to receive tickets for train travel to Milwaukee for physical exams. We were sworn in and sent to Fort Sheridan, Illinois for IQ and aptitude tests. We were issued GI clothing and sent to another base for basic training. I didn't see Ace or Bob until I met Ace in Japan. Fort Lewis, Washington would be my base for training and re-assignment. We had just finished the 5th week and rifle qualifying. My score was 181, which made me Expert with the M-1. Two GI's were horse playing in the mess line and accidently knocked me down, smashing my left knee in the process. I was hospitalized 30 days; spending 20 days in traction with 15 lb. weights pulling my leg straight. I finished my last 3 weeks in another company with no problems.

A picture of David Rhead in Army After basic training, I was sent to Camp Stoneman, California, for assignment to Japan. I departed San Francisco on October 3, 1946, and arrived in Japan on October 16. I was assigned to General Headquarters at Tokyo and placed in the Textile Division of the Economic and Scientific Section as a File Clerk under Sgt. Ray Davis. There were military and civilian experts in all types of textiles and two Japanese interpreters. The interpreters were great to work with and we got along very well. When Ray returned to the States, I was given the position as Chief Clerk and promoted to Tech Fourth Grade (Sergeant). I enjoyed my duty in Japan and was able to see many historic people, including General Douglas MacArthur. I also saw Emperor Hirohito of Japan, General Tojo, and other military officers accused of war crimes. The accused were found guilty (except for Emperor Hirohito) during trials in 1946-47 and either hanged or received prison sentences.

A picture of David Rhead in Army I saw historic places as well. I went on a train trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. It took 10½ hours to go 400 miles. I remember seeing Mt. Fuji and how beautiful it was. I also saw Hiroshima, which is something you don't ever forget.

Col. Tate, head of the Textile Division, offered me a promotion to Master Sergeant or a Civil Service appointment if I re-enlisted. However, I wanted to go home and not make the Army my career. It was a great opportunity but I made the right choice because the Korean War began in December, 1950. The ship carrying me back to the States left August 3, 1947 and arrived in San Francisco, August 14. I was discharged and put on terminal leave to September 13, 1947.

From October, 1947, through February, 1948, I worked as a Stock Flyer for Hummel Downing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This company printed cartons for various other manufacturers. I worked with another guy and we had to make sure paper was on hand for the presses and unload the printed material.

March 1, 1948, I quit the job at Hummel Downing and enrolled at Gale Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to train as a Railroad Telegrapher-Station Agent. I finished the course and went to Boone, Iowa to work as an apprentice on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. I worked from November, 1948 to February 15, 1949. From February 16, 1949 to September, 1949, I worked on the Extra Board going to stations to relieve agents for vacations. September 1, 1949 to September, 1965, I was a Telegrapher/Leverman at Beverly and Otis Towers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, lining up switches and signals for trains. Passenger trains through Cedar Rapids and freight trains on the main line through Beverly eastbound and westbound. From 1954 to 1956, I worked two nights at Cedar Rapids passenger station as Telegrapher/Ticket Clerk. In September, 1965, I accepted the position of Clerk in the Sales Department at Casper, Wyoming. In August, 1966, I was promoted to Chief Clerk in the Sales Office in Des Moines, Iowa. In February, 1968, I was appointed District Sales Representative in Marshalltown, Iowa. On June 1, 1976, I was appointed District Sales Representative and moved to Bartlett, Tennessee. I held this position until I retired September 1, 1985.

During September, 1949, I was introduced to Ann Burton by her brother-in-law, Mick Darlington. Ann, her father Hunter Burton, and nephew Billy, were all in Cedar Rapids visiting Ann's sister, Margaret. Ann and I dated for about 3½ months. We decided to get married and were baptized at St. James Methodist Church and married there at 8:00 pm, January 18, 1950. Our first child, Gary, was born March 13, 1951, during a bad snow storm that put 30 inches of snow on the ground.

Our second child, Carolyn, arrived a couple years later. We had the perfect family, a son and a daughter.

We lived in five different apartments before we had enough money to make a down payment on a 3 bedroom house in Cedar Hills, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in June, 1960. I sold life insurance and securities part-time, working full-time on the railroad. Ann did some part-time work as well.

A new church, St. Mark's Methodist, was to be built in Cedar Hills. I accepted the position of Chairman of the Building Committee. Services and Sunday School were held in Lincoln School while the church was built. Later, I was appointed Chairman of the Official Board. These duties required many meetings, mainly in the evening and this cut into my work as a life insurance salesman. I was told by the manager that I would either work full-time in insurance or stick with the railroad. I found out how hard it was to make a living in the insurance business and decided my future was on the railroad. I have never regretted that decision.

Ann worked part-time at World of Fabrics and then went to work full-time at So Fro Fabrics in Marshalltown. It only took a few months for her to become manager of the store and she worked as manager from 1970 until June, 1976. She worked long, hard hours and when I told her I was offered the position in Memphis, Tennessee, she was more than happy to retire. I made good wages but if she hadn't worked, our life style wouldn't have been as good as it was.

The time spent working at Marshalltown, Iowa, was good training to advance in the Sales Department even if it was quite stressful. When I moved to Memphis, it took a while to learn the territory but I met many good people. In 1978, I was elected to a 2 year term on the Board of Directors for the Traffic Club of Memphis and after working hard for the Traffic Club, I was elected President for 1985. Prior to this election, I held positions of 2nd and 1st Vice President. Upon my retirement, the Board of Directors of both Memphis and Nashville Traffic Clubs, granted me a life membership.

In my teens, sports that I enjoyed were hunting, fishing, basketball and softball. But when I started playing golf at the age of 28, no other sport existed. I had to quit playing in my sixties because of a bad hip but it has always been my favorite sport.

Listed below are famous or noted people I have seen in person:

A picture of David Hugh Rhead taken in 2007


David Hugh Rhead
Photo taken in 2007
Love you Dad!


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The Commercial Appeal
July 22, 2014

David H. Rhead

Born September 19, 1927, in Belvidere, IL, to Hugh and Frances (Lyons) Rhead, he died Sunday, July 20, 2014. David enlisted in the Army in 1946 and was stationed in Tokyo during the Allied Occupation of Japan at the end of WWII. He went to work for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in 1949 and eventually moved to Cedar Rapids, IA, where he met and married Ann Burton. After 36 years of service to the railroad, David retired in 1985 in Bartlett, TN.

David was an avid golfer and competed in many tournaments over the years. He also loved to read and made frequent trips to the library where the books he read were primarily about golf. Thus, he was able to combine his two favorite pastimes.

David is survived by his beloved wife of 64 years, Ann; his daughter, Carol Tessen of Bartlett, TN; his grandchildren, Sean Tessen of Lititz, PA; Karrah Camacho of York, PA; Justin Tessen of Lancaster, PA; sister, Beverly Michael of St. Charles, IL; brother and sister-in-law, James and Rita Rhead of West Branch, Michigan; and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and his son, Gary E. Rhead.

A private graveside service will be held and burial will be at Memphis Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association.